Massachusetts alimony laws are some of the most lenient in the United States. As established in Section 34, Chapter 208 of the state's general laws, either party in a divorce can receive alimony payments for life. The type and amount of alimony awarded is determined by the court.
Massachusetts Alimony Laws
Massachusetts alimony statutes are gender neutral and allow three types of alimony: temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent. Courts can award alimony during a divorce proceeding or for a previous divorce, even if that divorce was granted out of state. To award alimony for a foreign divorce (meaning one entered into in a different state) both parties must live in Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts court can consider the following when determining whether to award alimony and how much should be paid:
- Each spouse's testimony
- Length of marriage
- Occupation of the spouses
- Employability of one or both spouses
Even though Massachusetts is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither spouse is blamed for the demise of the marriage, the court is also permitted to include the conduct of parties during the marriage in its analysis.
Massachusetts alimony laws also permit a court to award health insurance to an ex-spouse. A paying spouse who has health insurance, either through work or an individual policy, can be required to pay for or include an ex-spouse on his or her policy.
As in other states, alimony payment obligations are not discharged through bankruptcy. Failure to pay alimony as required by the court can result in punishment through the garnishment of wages or an award of assets to the receiving spouse. A Massachusetts court cannot imprison an ex-spouse for not paying alimony.
Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011
In January of 2011, the Massachusetts state legislature introduced the Massachusets Alimony Reform Act of 2011; this legislation would drastically alter the state's alimony statutes. These laws establish four different types of alimony: general term, rehabilitative, reimbursement or transitional. General term alimony is akin to permanent alimony; reimbursement and transitional alimony are analogous to temporary alimony. The law limits what a court can consider when awarding alimony and the length of time alimony can be awarded.
How to Receive Alimony in Massachusetts
Courts cannot grant an award of alimony unless a spouse asks for support. Even then, the court must hold a hearing to determine whether the requesting spouse has an actual need for assistance and if the other spouse is able to pay. Alimony is awarded in addition to child support, but the amount of child support will be included in the court's consideration and may result in a lower award for alimony.
If you are in need of financial assistance from your ex-spouse, don't hesitate to ask for it, but be certain to provide evidence of your need. Massachusetts courts will not prohibit you from receiving what you need or are entitled to from your ex-spouse.