Spousal Support Lawyer, Massachusetts
Norfolk County Alimony Law Firm Resolving Cases for Over 15 Years
Having an experienced spousal support lawyer to help you navigate the law around spousal support or alimony is typically very important in most divorces after long term marriages and those marriages that did not have children. Choosing the right alimony attorney with the experience and confidence to establish the proper support amount is crucial whether you are the payor or the recipient.
Using the right alimony lawyer in Norfolk County can help. Alimony is support between ex-spouses. Alimony law has been actively changing over the recent years and what your friends tell you will likely not be correct or up-to-date information.
Separate support or alimony in Massachusetts is based on need of the recipient, abilty of the payor and interpreting the factors found in the statutes and the case law that interprets them.
In 2012, Massachusetts changed its alimony laws. (See MGL, Chapter 208, sections 48 to 55). On January 1, 2019, a federal tax overhaul began that dramatically changed the amount that is awarded in alimony. Generally, Courts award between 22% and 26% of the difference in the parties’ gross incomes. This is lesser than had been traditionally awarded. This federal law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)), eliminated all taxes with alimony obligations for orders entered after December 31, 2018. In other words, the obligor can no longer deduct alimony on his/her federal tax returns and the recipient no longer needs to claim alimony as income on his/her federal tax return. Since the 2012 alimony revamp contemplated the tax relief and burden to the parties, once those dynamics were eliminated by the federal tax law, Massachusetts courts responded by ordering less support, resulting in an equitable benefit.
Two additional points: If you have an alimony order that issued before December 31, 2018, your alimony order is grandfathered in and the amount should be at the higher percentages. Also, only the federal tax law changed, alimony payments are still deductible and receipt of alimony is includible on Massachusetts state income tax returns.
Payment of alimony in Massachusetts has durational limits. Meaning that the timeframe of the payment of alimony has a end date. For general term alimony on marriages over 20 years, it lasts till the payor reaches his/her retirement age. For shorter marriages (that is, marriages of less than 20 years), the length of time that the payor must pay is far less depending on the length of marriage. Furthermore, for much shorter marriages (5 years or less), there three less traditional classes of alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Reimbursement alimony
- Transitional alimony
It is important to note that in Massachusetts, the payor’s legal obligation to pay alimony will end upon attaining normal retirement age as then defined by the Social Security Administration, even if the payor continues to work full time. There are exceptions, but the burden to the recipient is high.
Spousal support or Alimony in Massachusetts has been changing and new cases further define our understanding of what is possible. Contact Angel Burke Law to discuss.
When Alimony Is Awarded
The length of the marriage, the age of their children, the income of each spouse and each spouse’s need are factors that play a significant role in determining whether alimony is awarded. When both spouses are employed in jobs with similar salaries, alimony payments may not be awarded or both spouses may decide not to seek spousal support.
How is Alimony Calculated in Massachusetts?
Determining whether alimony will be awarded and if so, for how long is not just a formula, it can be frustrating and it can require complex negotiation. In some cases, people are able to come to an agreement on their own, as long as the terms are fair to both parties and the agreement is filed with the court. Otherwise, the judge will hear arguments from both sides, consider the facts and make an order.
Some Factors Considered When Awarding Alimony include:
- The length of the marriage
- Age and health of the spouses
- The standard of living during marriage
- Each spouse’s contributions to the family
- The education and training of each spouse
- How the property is to be divided after divorce
- Each spouse’s need for support and ability to pay
- The respective income and financial positions of each spouse
How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony?
According to Massachusetts law, the duration of alimony strictly depends on how long the marriage lasted:
- For marriages 5 years or less, alimony can’t be required for more than 50 percent of the number of months you were married.
- For marriages 10 years or less, alimony can’t be required for more than 60 percent of the number of months you were married.
- That number will increase by 10% every 5 years of marriage, until it hits 20 years of marriage. Once it hits 20 years, a judge can continue to have alimony last as long as he or she feels is fair.
Alimony Can Stop Completely if the Following Occurs:
- One of the spouses passes away
- The receiving spouse gets remarried
- The spouse paying the alimony reaches the actual retirement age
The Types of Alimony
In Massachusetts, there are four different types of alimony which may be awarded. These types are transitional, reimbursement, rehabilitative, and general term alimony.
Transitional alimony is either paid one time or regularly after a divorce to help the recipient spouse settle into a new location or lifestyle.
Reimbursement alimony is paid one time or regularly after a divorce to make up for expenses which the recipient spouse incurred as a result of the marriage. This may occur if the recipient spouse helped the paying spouse complete job training or education.
Rehabilitative alimony is regularly and temporarily paid to one spouse with the expectation that the recipient will be able to support themselves by a given time.
General term alimony is regularly paid to a spouse who was financially dependent on the paying spouse during the marriage. The amount of general term alimony is reliant on the length of the marriage.
There are rules and time frames for each of these types and our Norfolk County alimony attorney is committed to helping you sort out the best plan to get the results you need.