What Determines Alimony?
Will alimony be a part of your divorce? It depends. The court has broad discretion in determining alimony obligations, and your lawyer’s skill in presenting your case can make a significant difference in the outcome of the issue. What is fair and equitable often depends on the unique circumstances of your marriage. The best way to protect yourself is to work with someone who understands Massachusetts divorce law and who has the experience to know what the likely outcome will be. I am attorney Annette Baker. For over a decade I have helped divorcing couples create a support plan that works. I can help you, too.
Alimony Reform Law: How The Courts Determine Alimony
As complicated as the statute makes it sound, and despite the recent changes that have been enacted with the Alimony Reform Law, the main issue in an alimony contest will normally boil down to comparing one spouse’s claim of need to the other spouse’s ability to pay. A corporate executive can expect to pay a substantial amount of spousal support to a divorcing spouse who has never worked outside the home during a 25-year marriage. In a case where both spouses have professional careers with roughly equivalent present income and future earning potential, however, it is unlikely that either spouse will pay or receive spousal maintenance or alimony. The cases with the most room for argument will generally involve divorcing spouses and circumstances such as the following:
- Both spouses have sufficient education to support a middle-class income or more, but one spouse has interrupted his or her career to serve as a full-time parent or homemaker
- The spouse seeking alimony has no earned income, but is an income beneficiary under a trust account, or expects a substantial inheritance soon
- The spouse defending against a claim for alimony is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed
- One spouse has supported another spouse through graduate school and now faces a loss of the financial results of that sacrifice
When Spouses Disagree On The Amount Of Alimony
If the divorcing spouses cannot agree as to whether or how much one spouse must pay to the other, the court will determine the question of alimony according to a fairly lengthy list of both mandatory and optional factors prescribed by statute. These factors range from the length of the marriage and the different incomes of the parties to the relative contribution of each in acquiring, preserving or increasing the value of the marital estate. More and more couples are seeking to live separate lives later in life. I understand the unique challenges, issues and even benefits “gray divorce” entails.
Contested Alimony Hearings
Because the factors that a family law judge would consider in a contested alimony hearing are very similar to those to be considered in a property distribution dispute, it is common to negotiate alimony claims, amounts and durations together with equitable distribution issues, especially in cases involving complex asset division problems. Alimony is taxable to the recipient and deductible for the payer, subject to IRS limitations. Sound tax planning in connection with both property division and alimony negotiations can serve to protect the marital estate so that both spouses can come out better than they otherwise might.
Get Accessible, Proven Help With Alimony Issues
As an experienced attorney and the principal of Baker Law I offer comprehensive advice and surefooted representation on any alimony or asset protection issues. Call 978-922-2888 to learn how your situation can be resolved on favorable terms. You can also email me and I will respond within 24 hours. In many cases I can help you through mediation, negotiation and settlement. As a last resort or when the situation warrants, I am a seasoned litigator who will pursue your issue in the courts.