Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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What is the purpose of alimony or spousal support?

A divorce can have an unfair financial effect on one or both spouses in Massachusetts and elsewhere. It is not uncommon for one spouse to give up his or her career in order to provide full-time care for the couple's children. In other cases, one spouse may have a much higher income than the other spouse, and alimony or spousal support payments may ensure an equal lifestyle for both spouses.

A court may award rehabilitative alimony, which has to be paid for a predetermined period. This is typically ordered when one spouse is capable of becoming self-supporting but needs time for training or obtaining suitable employment. Other cases that may justify long-term rehabilitative spousal support are if one spouse is disabled or not likely to obtain lucrative employment.

When there is no termination date for alimony on the divorce decree, it has to be paid until the court orders termination. In such cases, spousal support commonly terminates upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse. If the payer dies, the court may order continuation of alimony payments by the payer's life insurance or estate in cases where the receiving party is dependent on the payment.

As times are changing, it has become common for women to pay spousal support to men. In order to avoid having a judge decide on who will pay how much alimony for how long, divorcing couples may choose to utilize the services of an experienced Massachusetts alimony attorney, along with the mediation services offered by such a professional. Through mediation, couples may be able to agree on spousal support that is fair to both parties, and if approved by the court, it will be included in the divorce decree.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics", Jan. 6, 2015

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