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Alimony orders in divorce proceedings

Massachusetts family court judges can and sometimes do order the payment of money separate from child support from one spouse to another for a specified length of time following a divorce. This is called alimony, and can be requested by either party. Although a court may grant it, the court is not required to do so.

In making a determination regarding requested alimony, the applicable statute directs judges to consider a number of factors in deciding whether to grant it as well as the amount. Important considerations include the length of the marriage, the relative incomes of both parties, the contributions each made to the marriage which can include homemaking, the standard of living each enjoyed during the marriage, the ability of each to provide for themselves through employment and the educational level of both.

If a court determines alimony is appropriate, the court will then determine whether the party that will be ordered to pay alimony is able to access health coverage for his or her spouse through his or her employment. If there is such access, the court will order the party to also either provide the coverage or to reimburse the ex-spouse for medical coverage obtained elsewhere in addition to alimony.

Not every alimony request will be granted. For very short marriages or those in which the incomes are largely the same, it is unlikely alimony will be ordered. People who believe they should benefit from an alimony order may wish to request it in their petition for divorce or filed response. Both parties will be required to disclose all assets, liabilities and income to each other and to the court so the court can make a fair determination. A family law attorney with experience in divorce matters will be able to provide more guidance in this regard.

Source: General court of Massachusetts, "Section 34Alimony or assignment of estate; determination of amount; health insurance", October 08, 2014

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