Alimony and Remarriage in Massachusetts

Divorce is a challenging time for both spouses. So many factors involving the outcome can have lasting effects. Alimony is no exception. Alimony refers to a specified amount of money paid to one spouse by the other spouse during and after divorce. The purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living. One of the most popular questions asked is, “can remarriage discontinue alimony?” A change in the Massachusetts alimony law in 2012 clarified that provision and several others. Consider these four frequently asked questions about alimony and remarriage in Massachusetts.

How Much is Alimony?
The main consideration in calculating alimony in Massachusetts is each spouse’s income or income earning ability. However, many other factors are at play when a court determines how much alimony a spouse is required to pay. While the actual amount is usually a percentage of the difference between each  spouse’s income, the following factors are also considered:

  • How long the two were married;
  • The standard of living while married and the ability of both spouses to maintain that standard of living;
  • The income, skills and employment opportunities of both spouses;
  • The current liabilities and needs of each spouse;
  • The age and health of each spouse.

What if the receiving spouse gets remarried?
Massachusetts changed the alimony law in 2012 to include a provision that terminates alimony if the receiving spouse remarries. However, don’t assume termination upon remarriage is automatic and an agreement or  Complaint for Modification would need to be approved by the court.

What if the receiving spouse is living with a partner?
The new law does allow for alimony to be suspended or reduced if the receiving spouse is living with a partner and receiving economic benefits. However, the paying spouse must prove their ex-spouse has been cohabitating for at least three months. Also, alimony can be reinstated when the living arrangements change.

How do I get my alimony changed in Massachusetts?
You must file a “complaint for modification of alimony” with the court to discontinue or change the amount of alimony being collected or paid. The requesting spouse must prove reason for the change, either in the recipient’s need or the paying spouse’s ability to pay. For example, if the paying spouse became unemployed, a modification may be warranted.

If you have issues of alimony at the time of divorce or changes that have occurred since your divorce consider using a Certified Divorce and Family Mediator to help you resolve these issues.  Mediation is less expensive and less time consuming than the traditional adversarial court process.