Understanding the different types of alimony

by | Mar 14, 2023 | Divorce

Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is sometimes necessary in a high-asset divorce, especially if one spouse earns significantly more than the other.

There are several different types of alimony.

General term alimony

When one spouse is economically dependent on the other, the financially independent spouse may have to pay support for a specific period of time.

Normal alimony terms in Massachusetts are:

  • Half the length of the marriage if the marriage lasted five years or less
  • 60% of the length of the marriage if the marriage lasted 10 years or less
  • 70% if the marriage lasted 15 years or less
  • 80% if the marriage lasted 20 years or less

For couples married longer than 20 years, a judge can determine a fair time frame for general-term alimony. Unless a judge orders otherwise, alimony ends when the paying spouse reaches retirement age or the receiving spouse remarries.

Other types of alimony

In Massachusetts, the court can also order rehabilitative, reimbursement or transitional alimony.

If the financially dependent spouse expects to become financially independent by a certain time, the court may award rehabilitative alimony. This short-term support can give the recipient time to complete a degree or career training program.

Reimbursement alimony compensates one spouse for sacrifices he or she made to increase the other’s earning potential, such as working full-time while the other spouse earned a degree. Only couples married for five years or less are eligible for reimbursement alimony.

Transitional alimony helps the receiving spouse relocate or adjust to a new lifestyle after divorce. Like reimbursement alimony, it is only available to couples married five years or less.

In a high-asset divorce, alimony can help the lower-earning spouse transition to a new life and maintain financial stability.