Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Are there any circumstances that will guarantee alimony?

The answer to this question is no, but it may need some clarification. Alimony rules differ from state to state, and ordering alimony in divorce proceedings commonly requires one spouse to prove that he or she needs financial assistance. Even if alimony was addressed in a prenuptial agreement, it might be disputed. If a prenuptial agreement states that no alimony will be paid, it may be awarded if both spouses agree. Massachusetts couples that are considering divorce may want to gain knowledge about the state laws pertaining to alimony.

When alimony is considered by the court as part of the divorce proceedings, the court will look at some essential elements. The level of dependency of one spouse upon the other will likely be the primary consideration. Alimony may be awarded if one spouse is unable to earn an income or needs time to prepare to enter the job market. This might occur if one spouse sacrificed a career in favor of caring for the couple's children or to support the other spouse's studies. In such cases, one spouse may have been wholly dependent upon financial support from the other spouse.

Alimony is not restricted by the gender of the applicant. It may be awarded to either a husband or a wife if a valid need exists. Alimony can only be awarded when couples are divorced or separated and living apart. The two parties in a divorce may mutually agree on alimony and the period allocated for such payments. As soon as couples file separate tax returns, the party paying alimony will receive a tax deduction on any alimony paid.

The media often reports on bitter alimony disputes between divorcing celebrities and other high-profile couples. Massachusetts couples may find comfort in knowing that such situations can be avoided by retaining the services of an experienced divorce attorney. A lawyer will likely suggest the guidance of a mediator to assist in reaching mutual agreements on all contentious issues. It has been reported that couples that are part of the decision-making process in matters relating to their futures feel empowered and tend to honor agreements made while in mediation.

Source:, "Alimony Rules", Tamsen Butler, Accessed on March 6, 2015

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