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How alimony awards are determined

When it comes to alimony, it serves the purpose of ensuring that no one party to a divorce enjoys a significant economic windfall. Alimony may be awarded in a particular case in which it can be shown that the non-wage or lower-wage-earning spouse made a choice to stay home and care for the family while his or her spouse primarily contributed all financial support.

Although there are no set guidelines to follow in determining if and how much alimony should be awarded, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act suggests that judges consider a number of factors in rendering alimony decisions. Among these factors, it is recommended that judges consider the dynamics of the former couples' marriage including how long it lasted as well as the individuals' ages and physical and mental states.

It also suggests that the judge be particularly deliberate in assessing the parties' financial means, especially as it relates to whether or not one spouse can afford to support the other. In doing so, it's important to take into account how the couple lived during their marriage and to replicate that as much as possible.

Also, because alimony is designed to be rehabilitative in nature, it's not intended to last forever. Instead, a judge will assess what amount of time is necessary for the recipient spouse to receive necessary education or training to become self-sufficient. The judge will schedule the end date of payments to coincide with that point.

If the recipient remarries, alimony is traditionally withdrawn. Although that's the case, under some circumstances, spousal support does not necessarily come to an end when the payer dies. The recipient may continue receiving alimony, paid from either the decedent's estate or insurance, in cases where it's evident that he or she is unable to secure employment necessary to adequately support oneself.

Society has changed considerably since alimony laws went into effect and so have perspectives that women depend largely on their husbands to support them. With dual income homes on the rise, courts have begun to see women as being much less dependent on their spouses for support. As a result, awards of alimony have seen a steep decline.

If you or someone you know is considering requesting alimony payments, a Massachusetts divorce attorney will be a significant asset.

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