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How long do alimony payments last after a Massachusetts divorce?

Marriage is about commitment, cooperation and even sacrifice. Each spouse likely makes certain sacrifices for the comfort and happiness of the other. People combine their resources and adjust their daily lives for the benefit of their spouses. The need to support a spouse or children can motivate people to achieve greater professional success. Others make professional sacrifices by focusing on their families instead of on their careers.

When divorce occurs, someone who made economic sacrifices for the family may want financial support. Alimony involves regular payments from one spouse to another after the divorce. Someone who was the sole wage earner for their family might need to provide support for a stay-at-home parent or a spouse who put their career on the back burner for the family.

Both those hoping to receive alimony and those worried about paying it may want an idea of how long the payments may last. If spouses don’t reach an agreement on their own about alimony, then the courts use rules set in Massachusetts state law.

The longer the marriage, the longer alimony may last

The length of the payments depends on the length of the marriage. Those divorcing after five years or less of marriage can have alimony orders that last 50% of the direction of the marriage. The state uses months as the calculation tool. A three-year marriage lasts 36 months, so the longest possible order in such cases is 18 months.

If the marriage lasted up to 10 years, the courts can award alimony that lasts 60% of the marriage’s length. For marriages of up to 15 years, that increases to 70%. Marriages that last between 15 and 20 years could lead to alimony for 80% of the marriage’s length.

In cases where the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the judge can award alimony for any duration that seems fair based on their knowledge of the situation.  For those preparing for gray divorces after decades of marriage, alimony can be particularly difficult to predict if left to the discretion of a judge.

Alimony payments can last for years in scenarios involving longer marriages and can affect the financial circumstances of both spouses. Those who understand the basic rules that govern major family law matters can use that information when planning for the big picture.