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.

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.

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