When one spouse makes substantially more than the other, that can lead to greater financial issues for the spouse with less earning potential after a divorce. Particularly if that spouse stayed out of the workforce to care for the family home or to raise children, it may be reasonable for the courts to order alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support.

There is no set figure for alimony that applies to every divorce in Massachusetts. Instead, the courts will look at a variety of factors to determine how much alimony is appropriate.

What factors guide alimony allocation?

The judge will need to consider some of the unique circumstances of your family when deciding what amount of alimony is appropriate. Those factors will include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The financial contribution of each spouse
  • The unpaid contributions of each spouse
  • Current earning potentials
  • Special medical concerns
  • Childcare determinations
  • The impact of the marriage on either spouse’s future economic prospects

Staying out of the workforce for two decades to raise your children could mean accepting a substantially decreased earning potential for the rest of your life. Alimony is a way for the courts to offset the impact of your unpaid work.

A final note on state standards

The exact amount of alimony that the courts order will vary drastically depending on the circumstances of your family and the marital lifestyle you enjoyed. Generally, judges will not order alimony that will be more than what the spouse receiving it needs to survive or between 30% and 35% of the gap between the income of the divorcing spouses.