Alimony is a payment made by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce, either by court order or by mutual agreement. This type of post-divorce payment is also sometimes referred to as maintenance. In Massachusetts, alimony is generally not paid in addition to child support. However, if the non-custodial parent has sufficient income, the court may grant both alimony and child support.

Alimony for an extended period of time is usually only granted in the case of “long-term” marriages (defined in Massachusetts as lasted twenty years or more). Alimony awards are less likely in short-term marriages, or where both parties have relatively equal incomes and earning capacities. If alimony is awarded in the context of a short-term or medium-term marriage, it is more likely to be time-limited.

Some factors when a court considers whether a spouse is entitled to receive alimony payments from the other spouse include: the length of the marriage; the conduct of the spouses during the marriage; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income of each spouse; vocational skills and employability of each spouse; the espouses’ estate; the liabilities and needs of each of the parties; the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income; and the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage.

In addition, when an order is made for alimony on behalf of a spouse, the court shall also determine whether the obligor spouse is covered by, or has access to, health insurance through an employer or organization or has health insurance at a reasonable cost that may be extended to cover the spouse for whom support is ordered.

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