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.