Alimony in Massachusetts: How Courts Calculate Your Post-Divorce Payments

One of the ways that an individual can recover from the financial burden of a divorce is by being awarded alimony and utilizing the money to start a new life. Alimony allows an individual to make positive changes such as preparing for a career or relocating, or being reimbursed for support they provided their ex-spouse during the marriage. It can also help provide the financial stability needed for a lower-earning spouse when starting over during the divorce process or after the marriage has ended.

Massachusetts courts provide for four types of alimony:

  1. General term alimony: This type of alimony can be awarded in cases where one spouse is financially dependent on the other due to a disparity of income between them. The amount of alimony awarded depends on the judge considering a number of statutory factors, which are discussed below. The length of time you could get general term alimony depends upon how long your marriage lasted.
  2. Rehabilitative alimony: This type of alimony helps a spouse who is not in a current position to support him or herself, but is expected to be able to with a little “rehabilitation” (such as going through schooling, training, a recovery period or other situation which will help you to become economically independent). This type of alimony can only last up to five years.
  3. Reimbursement alimony: A recipient may be entitled to this type of alimony if they incurred costs and expenses or contributed non-economically on behalf of their spouse during a marriage lasting less than 5 years. Examples would be paying off all the spouse’s credit card bills or paying all the bills so the other spouse could finish college and get a degree.
  4. Transitional alimony: This type of alimony is designed to help one spouse transition out of a marriage that lasted less than five years into their new life post-divorce due to a change in lifestyle or living situation.

How the amount of alimony awarded is calculated:

In Massachusetts, the amount of alimony is based off of the need of the person seeking alimony and the ability of the spouse who would be paying alimony to pay it. The calculation (relating to general term alimony) generally equates to between 30-35% of the disparity (the difference) between the two spouses’ incomes.  For example, if the Wife makes $150k per year and the Husband makes $50k per year, the Husband could seek an alimony payment of 30-35% of $100k ($30 – $35k per year).  Yes, that’s right – alimony can be paid by both men and women.

Generally, the amount of alimony awarded is generally dependent upon both the length of the marriage and the present income or earning capacity of each spouse. However, the court will consider a number of additional relevant factors, such as:

  • Each spouse’s professional skills and future earning potential for employment
  • Economic and non-economic contributions of each spouse
  • The debts and financial needs of each spouse
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The needs of any children
  • Detrimental conduct during the marriage, such as adultery or abuse
  • The lifestyle of the couple during the marriage
  • The ability for each spouse to maintain the marital lifestyle after the divorce
  • Whether any economic opportunity has been lost by either spouse

Making positive changes with O’Connor Family Law

At O’Connor Family Law, our experienced legal team is dedicated to helping our clients make positive changes post-divorce. If you are a Massachusetts resident interested in pursuing alimony or obtaining other family law services such as divorce, a pre-nuptial agreement, or a cohabitation agreement, please contact our office at (744) 314-4725 or visit us online at

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