How the Courts Decide on Alimony

Alimony is an explosive topic. Some people totally agree with it, while others are firmly against it. Either way, alimony can be a large part of divorce, and the financial aspect can be lengthy and costly for the party that will be paying the alimony. The decision of granting alimony by the court depends on several different factors that many people don’t even realize. For instance, a major factor is marital fault. The reason for the breakup of a marriage could affect the amount and duration of alimony in the eyes of certain judges. If one spouse has evidence of cheating, that could affect the alimony outcome, for example.

Another factor is the length of the marriage. Think about this: How long have you been married? Five years v. 25 years makes a huge difference, and with the latter, age plays into the equation. If you are a young person who is divorcing, the courts may look at you as someone who can easily obtain work. However, if you’re an older person, the courts may see you as unable to pay any type of support for a long period of time. Then there is the lifestyle during the marriage. Did you both live extravagantly? If so, this luxurious way of living may be over for the both of you. However, if you are a non-working spouse and are accustomed to a certain lifestyle, alimony may play into your favor. Then there is Social Security to consider. Did you know that if a non-working spouse, who had been married over 10 years to the former spouse and has not remarried, is entitled to her/his ex’s Social Security benefits? This becomes an element of alimony.

Health comes into decision-making as well. If a spouse isn’t in good health and is unable to sustain a job, this will affect how much and for how long s/he will receive alimony. For instance, if Spouse A has been out of work for two years and can’t return, then Spouse B may have to pay a larger portion toward alimony than originally expected. Besides health, kids are a major concern too. Who are the children going to live with? If they live with you, you may be entitled to more money, since the workday is shortened due to childcare. If they live with your spouse, s/he may be entitled to a larger sum.

Other monetary sources can pose an issue. Say, for instance, you have another source of income or a trust—this monetary source may affect how much alimony you receive or pay. A buildup of assets is important to note. For instance, if your husband built up his law practice while you were married, he now has to pay you half its value. The receipt of this lump sum could possibly reduce alimony payments down the line.

At Fields and Dennis, attorney Jonathan E. Fields has almost 25 years of experience in Family Law, including alimony proceedings. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America ® 2015 edition in the field of Family Law. He is also an Executive Board Member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and a Panel Member of the Children and Family Law Trial Committee for Public Counsel Services. Please contact him today if you are looking for a trusted and experienced Boston divorce lawyer.

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