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How does Massachusetts determine spousal support?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Family Law

Spousal support helps a lower-earning spouse maintain their standard of living after a divorce.

In Massachusetts, the court follows specific guidelines to decide whether one spouse should receive spousal support.

Length of the marriage

According to the CDC, the divorce rate in Massachusetts is 1.4 per 1,000 couples. The court looks at the length of the marriage. Shorter marriages usually result in shorter periods of alimony, while longer marriages may lead to longer periods of support. The court also examines the age and health of both spouses, as these factors can affect their ability to work and support themselves.

Income and employability

The court then considers the income, employment and employability of both spouses. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, this disparity might result in an alimony award to the lower-earning spouse. The court evaluates each spouse’s ability to find a job or improve their earning capacity through education or training.

Lifestyle during the marriage

The court assesses the lifestyle during the marriage. The goal is to allow both spouses to maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce. If one spouse stayed home to care for the children while the other worked, the court might award alimony to ensure the caregiving spouse can support themselves.

Contributions to the marriage

The court also examines the contributions of each spouse to the marriage. Contributions include not only financial support but also non-economic efforts like homemaking and childcare. Recognizing these contributions ensures that both spouses receive fair treatment.

Economic opportunities lost

The court takes into account the economic opportunities lost by each spouse. If one spouse gave up a career to support the other’s education or business, the court considers this sacrifice when determining alimony.

Pre-marital and marital agreements

The court reviews any agreements made by the spouses before or during the marriage. These agreements can influence the court’s decision on spousal support.

Other relevant factors

The court considers any other factors that might be relevant to the case. Each divorce is unique, and the court has the discretion to look at additional circumstances that might impact the decision.

When a couple divorces in Massachusetts, the court may award alimony.