Can I get more alimony from my ex?

Last week this Massachusetts family law blog discussed some of the ways that newly single individuals may face financial challenges after their divorces. In some cases, a person may be financially burdened when he or she is required to pay his or her ex-spouse alimony. An alimony-receiving spouse may feel financial stresses if the sum of money that is received each month is insufficient to cover his or her needs.

Courts generally scrutinize the financial situation of a couple to determine if alimony, or spousal support, is even warranted. Not every person who asks a court for alimony gets it; an order of alimony can depend on a number of factors. Those factors can include but are not limited to the couple’s standard of living during their marriage, the ability of the alimony-seeking spouse to support himself or herself and the length of the couple’s marriage.

If alimony is ordered, a court will often stipulate its duration at the time it is mandated. Spousal support may be short term or long term based on the needs of the couple. If a party feels that his or her alimony award is insufficient, he may be able to seek an alimony modification.

In some cases, however, an alimony-paying spouse may also seek a modification to his or her financial obligation if the financial circumstances of the receiving spouse improve. In many cases, alimony is not intended to serve as a permanent means of income for a receiving spouse, but rather to help that individual get on his or her feet after the end of a marriage.

Spousal maintenance or alimony is a variable factor in a couple’s divorce. It may not be ordered for all who seek it, and depending on the facts of a particular case, it may be modified after it is ordered. Legal professionals can provide interested readers with more information on this complex family law topic.

Alimony and child support serve two very different purposes

Massachusetts residents may have heard that money is fungible. What this means is that money is interchangeable: any one dollar bill may be substituted for any other one dollar bill and the value and use of each is the same. In essence, money is money and when funds for different purposes are lumped together it does not really matter which individual dollars go to each outstanding financial obligation.

However, divorce-based support payments are not fungible. Although spousal support and child support may be financial obligations paid from one former spouse to another, they may not be mixed together for a common purpose. It is important to recognize that although a single party may pay alimony and child support, those two payments serve two distinct purposes. One is to providesupport to a former spouse. The other is to provide support to one’s noncustodial children.

Spousal support is intended to help a person get back on his or her feet after ending a marriage. The support may be used by the individual to learn a new occupational skill or to complete a degree in order to re-enter the workforce. Spousal support or alimony is for a former spouse to use for his or her needs and should help that individual become financially independent.

Child support, however, serves a very different end. Child support is intended to be used by custodial parents to help their kids lead normal, productive lives. Child support is paid by a noncustodial parent for the benefit of his or her children and may not be used by a custodial parent for personal uses. Child support is for children; spousal support is for adults.

If a noncustodial parent pays his ex-spouse $500 per month in child support and $500 per month in spousal support, then the custodial spouse must use $500 for each of the given purposes. She may not use $600 for herself and $400 for her kids; support payments may not be mixed and reallocated. Once they are paid out, support payments may not be used interchangeably and must be allocated as designated by an agreement or court order.

Are you prepared for when your alimony payments end?

Alimony or spousal support is a legal obligation between former spouses. It provides one individual with financial support for a designated period of time at the expense and obligation of the other. Spousal support is based on the circumstances of each divorcing couple; in Massachusetts, several forms of alimony are available to meet those couples’ varying needs.

However, in most cases, a person’s alimony payments will eventually end. Alimony is often meant to be rehabilitative, or designed to help a spouse who has been out of the workforce to prepare to find a job in the wake of a divorce. As a result, the payments will not continue forever, and spouses receiving alimony must be prepared to support themselves when those payments cease.

Knowing when one’s alimony payments will end is a good first step to preparing for their absence. It is important for people who are receiving alimony to know that they, as well as their former spouses, can also ask their divorce courts for modifications to their spousal support or alimony awards. A modification can extend or shorten the length of time that alimony is paid and can be based on factors such as the length of the former couple’s marriage.

The Walters Law Offices can help people with the legal aspects of preparing to meet their alimony obligations as well as to preparing for the dates on which their alimony or spousal support payments will end. The firm is equipped to advise individuals going through divorces in Massachusetts of alimony laws relevant to their cases as well as to discuss options such as modifications that may be necessary for individuals to meet their continuing needs. To learn more about this Massachusetts-based family law practice, please visit its website on alimony.

Can a husband receive alimony from his ex-wife?

Previously this Massachusetts family law blog discussed some of the historical bases on which alimony and spousal support laws rest. In sum, women were generally more financially burdened than their husbands after divorce due to the fact they traditionally did not hold down paying jobs outside of their homes. Alimony or spousal support was used to allow women to establish their own lives after divorce with the financial support of their former partners.

Now, however, it is not uncommon for husbands to perform the majority of work within their homes while their wives serve as the primary breadwinners for their families. Due to this shift in the delegation of work between husbands and wives, both men and women can receive alimony. Alimony can be paid from the payer spouse to the other for a period of time that is established by a Massachusetts family law court.

Regardless of whether a man or a woman is seeking to receive alimony from a soon-to-be ex-spouse, there are a number of factors that a court will examine. The court will evaluate how long the couple was married and what standard of living they experienced during that union. Among other considerations, the court will look at the capacity of the requesting spouse to earn an income on his or her own and will also evaluate how long the alimony should last in order for the requesting spouse to be prepared to function without it.

Traditionally, women received alimony because they spent most of their working years in their homes managing the responsibilities of their families. Today, both men and women serve that important function in their families. Because of this shift, husbands and wives are eligible to pursue financial support in the form of alimony from their former spouses.

Time as a factor in an alimony determination

Hollywood power couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner recently announced that they would divorce. While it may not be surprising to learn of another celebrity couple splitting up, the timing of this split is notable.

Garner waited until the day after the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary to submit her petition to end her marriage. In the state where the couple resides, a marriage of more than 10 years is considered one of long duration and therefore entitles the lower wage-earning spouse to more alimony than spouses who divorce out of shorter-term marriages. Timing of a divorce can affect alimony in Massachusetts as well, and the state’s legislature has established an alimony scale that increases an alimony award for every five years that a couple is wed.

For example, if a couple is married for fewer than five years, a support award cannot last longer than half of the months that the couple was married. That would mean that if a couple was married for exactly four years or 48 months, the alimony award could not last longer than two years or 24 months. Each step up of five years of marriage provides a support-receiving spouse with a greater percentage of months during which he or she may receive financial support from the paying spouse.

In Massachusetts, a court may disregard the month-based structure described above if the interests of justice dictate doing so. There is, therefore, some leeway in the discussed length of marriage legislation to provide a needy party with the support he or she needs when taking into consideration any limitations he or she may have regarding the ability to earn money. Just as demonstrated in the Garner-Affleck divorce, the length of a marriage can have an impact on how much support a court awards in a divorce. Other factors can play into an alimony determination, and individuals with more questions about alimony may choose to work with family law legal professionals.

When can I stop paying alimony to my former spouse?

Spousal support is the award of financial support from one individual to another following the divorce of the involved parties. In Massachusetts, the duration of how long one party must pay and how long the other will receive alimony depends on a number of factors. While some events can simply terminate monthly alimony payments, in other cases, alimony length is based on the number of years that the former couple was married.

According to the General Laws of Massachusetts, remarriage can end an alimony obligation. If the alimony-receiving spouse remarries after the divorce, the money he or she received from the former spouse can be cut off. When a paying spouse remarries, however, his or her alimony obligation is generally unaffected.

Death can also terminate an alimony obligation. If the receiving spouse dies, alimony ends because there is no one who is owed through survivorship. If the paying spouse dies, the obligation generally does not transfer to another party.

When neither death nor remarriage cuts off alimony, a court will stipulate how long the alimony should last based upon how long the preceding marriage survived. Generally, shorter marriages result in alimony scheduled for shorter durations. Marriages that last more than ten years can result in alimony schedules that endure for longer periods of time. Massachusetts’s courts can even award indefinite alimony when the couple subject to the order was married for more than two decades.

The alimony schedule that a court sets is based on many factors and is unique to the couple it applies to. The above information has been provided as general information and should not be treated as advice. Divorcing or divorced couples dealing with alimony issues or other divorce legal problems should learn more about their options. Obtain legal guidance could help protect the rights and interests of both parties.

When an individual chooses not to pay an alimony obligation

The divorces that occur between Suffolk County residents can be amicable or they can be contentious. The parties to the divorces can stay friends after their marital dissolutions or they can dwell on the problems they experienced with their former spouses for years to come. While some individuals are able to make clean breaks from their exes, others find themselves tied to each other through their children, their property or their support commitments.

Alimony is one such support commitment that can exist between formerly married individuals. Alimony is temporary financial assistance paid from one former spouse to another to provide the receiving spouse with the financial means to start his life over. Often after divorce one spouse finds herself in a financially challenging position because she relied on a marital partner for financial help; alimony levels the monetary field for financially dependent spouses and helps them have fresh starts after their divorces.

However, just as one spouse may be set to receive alimony payments, the other may be asked to make such payments. Individuals may disagree with their courts’ requirements that they pay alimony to their exes. In some cases individuals disagree to such an extent that they simply refuse to make payments their former spouses are expecting as alimony.

Unfortunately for some financially strapped individuals, the failure to pay alimony cannot be remedied as aggressively as can the failure to pay child support. Generally, a person may not get a lien for missed alimony monthly payments, nor may he garnish a payee’s wages to accrue missing alimony amounts. A person who fails to pay court-ordered alimony may find himself facingcontempt charges and the penalties that attach to such allegations

While alimony is often a very helpful tool for a person in the post-divorce world, as a practical matter it is not always received when former spouses refuse to pay. Individuals who should be receiving monthly alimony payments have rights with regard to initiating payment compliance. Those who are missing out on needed alimony assistance may work with their legal representatives to bring their alimony receipts up to date.

Address circumstances when considering alimony modifications

When Massachusetts courts order alimony they are often establishing spousal support payment schedules that permit one spouse to get his or her life on the best possible financial track. Not all marriages end with both partners working and earning livable wages; in many cases one of the former partners to a failing marriage forgoes his or her career in order to take care of responsibilities related to the couple’s domestic life. When that partner finds himself on his own and without the support of his wage-earning spouse, he can encounter many problems related to money.

Alimony or spousal support can help that individual bridge the gap between the end of his marriage and the time when he is ready to get back to work. When a person who receives alimony becomes financially able to sustain himself either through employment or remarriage, the requirements to pay on the other spouse sometimes can be lifted. Though every alimony situation is different, when a person who receives support no longer needs it, the order requiring the payment of alimony can sometimes be modified.

A spousal support modification can be used to lengthen or terminate an alimony schedule, or it may be used to reduce or increase the amount of money provided to the support-receiving spouse. Just as positive increases in income can change a person’s need for support, so too can the loss of a job or other incident decrease the paying spouse’s ability to meet his or her financial obligations. Anyone who feels that his alimony situation may need modification can seek support from a local family law attorney.

The Walters Law Offices can help you work toward changing your spousal support order. Regardless of which side of the order you sit on, changes in circumstances can necessitate a court to revisit your order and make modifications so that your order matches you current needs. To learn more about our spousal support services, please visit our firm’s website on alimony.

Historical basis for the payment of alimony

Alimony is a legal vehicle by which a person is required to pay money to his or her former spouse that may be used for financial support. Here in Massachusetts, a man can pay a woman support and vice versa, though historically men were the parties mandated to pay support to their former wives. This post looks at some of the historical basis on which modern alimony laws are created.

In an article written for the National Paralegals College, alimony payments were originally described as support mandated from ecclesiastical courts that did not permit couples to divorce. In such courts, a couple could only secure a separation, and, because the couple was still technically married, the husband was made to continue to financially support his spouse.

When divorce was later recognized by American courts, a party often had to prove that fault was the reason for the marriage’s failure. Thus, without proof of fault on the husband’s part it could be challenging for a wife to get support from her ex. It can be presumed based on this information that if a wife’s actions caused a couple to divorce that she generally would not expect to receive monetary support in the form of alimony from her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Modern spousal support takes on a different form and in Massachusetts calculations are run to determine if and how much financial support a person should receive from his or her former partner. Fault is one of the factors that a court may look at and it still can factor into the size of a spousal support award.

Individuals who are going through divorce may have questions about alimony and whether they will receive or will have to pay spousal support after their marriages are terminated. Such questions cannot be answered directly by the information contained in this post, which is only provided as a general overview of alimony in its historical context. For specific guidance on personal alimony issues, readers of this blog may choose to consult their own family law attorneys.

What kinds of alimony may a Massachusetts court award?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the payment of money from one individual to another after they divorce. Generally, the spouse who is more financially capable will be given the legal obligation to support, for a set time, the other spouse. Alimony is intended to give spouses with no or lower earning capacities the opportunity to start over when their income-earning other-halves move out.

However, just as marriages may take on different forms and characters, so too may alimony vary based on the statuses of the couples it seeks to support. Massachusetts courts may award four different kinds of alimony during or after the divorces of couples appearing before them.

Perhaps the most recognizable form of spousal support is general term alimony. This type of alimony will vary in length depending upon how long the divorcing couple was married. It involves the earning spouse paying support to the non-earning spouse for a length of time after their divorce is finalized.

Another type of spousal support is called transitional alimony. This form of alimony is for couples who have been married for five years or fewer. The alimony is generally paid in a lump sum from one spouse to the other and concludes once that single payment is made.

A third type of support is rehabilitative alimony. This form of alimony differs from general term alimony in one important way: it anticipates that the spouse receiving the payments will be able to support him or herself at a future date. It is not intended to permanently sustain the receiving spouse, but rather helps that individual get to the point that he or she may financially function without help.

Finally, alimony may take on the form of a reimbursement. This type of support is for couples with short-term marriages and allows one spouse to give back to the other any financial support that may have gotten the paying spouse through school or into a new field or profession. It can be paid in a lump sum or over time.

The circumstances of a marriage will dictate the type of alimony that a spouse receives or is asked to pay. Please note that the information contained in this post is offered as information only and should not be read as specific legal advice. Individuals who have specific alimony questions may work with Massachusetts-based family law attorneys.

Ratings and Reviews

Mas. Academy of trial attorneys