In divorce cases, alimony, also called spousal support, is one of the primary issues that must be resolved before all is said and done. An award of alimony occurs in one of two ways:
- The parties agree on
(a) whether one party pays alimony in the first place;
(b) the amount of alimony; and
(c) the duration of alimony; OR
- The court issues a judgment with regards to each of these items.
Types of alimony
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are four types of alimony that may be awarded in divorce cases:
- General Term Alimony: This type of alimony consists of financial support paid to the recipient spouse who demonstrates economic dependence on the paying spouse (known as the “payor”). General term alimony is paid periodically, such as once a month.
- Transitional alimony: This type of alimony may be awarded to a recipient spouse in divorce cases where the marriage lasted not more than five years. The theory behind transitional alimony is that financial support of this type will help the recipient spouse adjust to a new lifestyle or location following the divorce.
- Rehabilitative alimony: With respect to rehabilitative alimony, the payor provides financial support to the recipient spouse with the expectation that he or she become self-sufficient by a certain, predicted endpoint. For example, within the time period that the recipient is paid rehabilitative alimony, such as five years, he or she should become reemployed, complete training and/or specific education. The goal of rehabilitative alimony is to help the recipient spouse get back on his or her feet after the divorce.
- Reimbursement alimony: This type of alimony is paid to the recipient spouse in one lump sum or periodically, such as once a month. As the name suggests, this type of alimony is awarded so as to reimburse the recipient spouse for his or her economic or non-economic contributions to the payor during the marriage. An example of this situation is when, during the marriage, the recipient spouse supported and enabled the payor to complete school (graduate school, medical school, dental school, etc.) Reimbursement alimony is awarded when the marriage lasted five years or less.
Alimony is a complicated and often brutal aspect of the divorce process. Generally, to resolve the issue, it requires intense negotiation and strong arguments. There are many nuances and potential pitfalls when seeking or disputing an award of alimony. It is very important to work with a highly experienced family law attorney with strong litigation skills and an expansive knowledge of Massachusetts alimony laws, including legal trends and developments. Attorney Rosanne Klovee has years of experience successfully negotiating favorable alimony terms for her clients. In addition to her reasonable but strong negotiation skills, she has a very successful track record obtaining for her clients very favorable judgments.