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When do alimony payments end after a divorce?

Alimony is one of the more important issues for couples going through a divorce. When a person is making monthly payments to their former spouse in order to support them economically, this is known under Massachusetts law as general term alimony. This is ongoing, as opposed to rehabilitative alimony, which is usually for a shorter period after which the recipient is expected to be able to generate their own income.

Massachusetts family law statutes give certain duration caps for general term alimony, depending on the length of the former marriage. If the former couple was married for over two decades, a court may order that the alimony payments continue indefinitely. For shorter marriages, different duration rules apply, with progressively shorter marriage lengths resulting in shorter alimony durations. These statutory limits give judges some discretion for how long to order alimony, provided they are under that limit.

There are certain events that will trigger the end of the general term payments should the time limit not be met. One of these events is the death of either of the parties. This immediately ends the need for alimony payments, though a court may require that a portion of life insurance proceeds are paid from a deceased spouse who had been paying while alive. Another triggering event is the remarriage of the recipient. When a recipient begins to cohabitate with another by sharing a household, the alimony payments will be suspended. If the payee ends that cohabitation, however, the payments will in some circumstances be resumed.

It can be difficult to understand these complex processes without the assistance of a family law attorney. The attorney may be helpful in all aspects of a divorce or other family legal dispute, whether during the divorce proceedings or in seeking a post-divorce modification to an order.

Source: The commonwealth of Massachusetts, "CHAPTER 208 DIVORCE", January 06, 2015

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