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What is the duration of alimony?

The laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts stipulate the duration of general alimony payments that may be awarded as part of a divorce decree after a couple ends their marriage. The deciding factor is primarily the length of the marriage with a formula specified in the relevant statute. Following a marriage lasting five years or less, the general alimony time is not to exceed half the number of months of the marriage.

For marriages of more than five and less than 10 years, the general alimony period is equal to 60 percent of the months in the marriage. Marriages that lasted between 10 and 15 years have a general alimony time that is no more than 70 percent of the number of marriage months. For marriages that lasted 20 years or less but more than 15, general alimony may be in place no longer than 80 percent of the number of marriage months.

If a marriage lasted more than 20 years, the court can require general alimony to be paid for an indefinite number of months. The situations that can cause a termination or modification of general alimony include remarriage or cohabitation by the recipient. When the payer attains full retirement age, the obligation will normally terminate. However, the court has the power to continue it for good cause as long as the reason for the extension is documented.

Many persons who are contemplating a divorce decide that input from a family law attorney is valuable for knowing their rights to receive a share of marital property and spousal support payments. Such an attorney can assist in the negotiation and preparation of a comprehensive divorce settlement agreement that addresses these and other issues.

Source: General Court of Masschusetts, "Section 49Termination, suspension or modification of general term alimony", September 30, 2014

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