In Massachusetts, judges of the Probate and Family Court may award alimony to one of the spouses during the divorce process. Alimony is payment by one former spouse towards the maintenance of the other spouse. Under the Massachusetts alimony law, there are four types of alimony: (1) general term; (2) rehabilitative; (3) reimbursement; and, (4) transitional. One form of alimony is called reimbursement alimony. The aim of reimbursement alimony is to pay one spouse back for the support (financial or otherwise) that spouse provided during the marriage.
Couples embarking on the divorce process in Massachusetts should hire competent legal counsel for this process. Divorcing couples must understand the various forms of alimony that a spouse in a divorce could receive from the payor spouse. The type of alimony that a Massachusetts judge awards to a person is based upon various factors and the length of the marriage.
For example, suppose that Jessica and Tim met during college. Soon after their graduation from school, they got married. Jessica worked as an entry-level technical writer, on a track to an eventual promotion to senior-level technical writer or director of technical writing, with a dream of going to law school to become an attorney. Tim was an entry-level financial analyst. Jessica earned more than Tim. After one year of marriage, Tim and Jessica decided that Tim would attend graduate school for business.
The two-year business program was intensive; Jessica supported her husband’s dream to become a business mogul. During their discussions about whether Tim should attend business school, the couple decided that Jessica would wait to pursue her dreams of law school until her husband finished his two-year business program. Additionally, Jessica would not work while he was in graduate school, so that she could support him. After his graduation, Tim found a job that offered a significant pay increase; Jessica continued to support Tim as a homemaker. She never went to law school, so she did not have the chance to pursue a law degree and eventually a wonderful and arduous career as an attorney. A few months later, Tim asked Jessica for a divorce. Jessica has many questions for her attorney: first, is she entitled to reimbursement alimony?
When can you receive reimbursement alimony?
Reimbursement alimony is intended for marriages that are shorter in length of time, five years or less. The purpose of reimbursement alimony is to compensate the payee, or recipient, spouse for all that the spouse did to support his or her spouse. The payee spouse receives reimbursement alimony to compensate for time, money, and effort spent in enhancing the other spouse’s earning capacity.
Jessica would likely have entitlement to alimony; Tim earned more money and Jessica would need compensation for all that she did to support Tim. Because their marriage was shorter in length–less than five years–the form of alimony that a justice would likely award to Jessica would be reimbursement alimony.
A Massachusetts Probate and Family Court judge may decide to award Jessica reimbursement alimony. This would compensate her for her time, money, and effort in enhancing Tim’s earning capacity. The spouses had decided that Tim would pursue an education to support his career. Because of this, Jessica was unable to advance in her career. This decision boosted Tim’s earning capacity and not Jessica’s as an individual. Because of this, a Massachusetts judge would award Jessica an alimony amount to reimburse her for all that she did to support Tim as a spouse, such as her staying at home to support Tim as a homemaker and also her foregoing her dreams to support his.
What if your marriage lasted longer than five years?
Suppose that Tim and Jessica’s marriage was longer than five years. Could Jessica receive alimony? The answer is that Jessica could receive alimony, but not reimbursement alimony. Reimbursement alimony is only for marriages that lasted five years or less. A Massachusetts judge would likely award Jessica one of the other forms of alimony; general term alimony would make her whole and comfortable as she was during the marriage. Reimbursement alimony is not designed to support longer marriages.
Are you looking for an experienced Newburyport or Andover divorce lawyer or family law attorney? It is important to hire a competent family law attorney to handle your unique case or answer your personal questions. If you have any questions about reimbursement or other forms of alimony, divorce, or family law issues, please call our offices at 978-225-9030 during business hours or complete a contact form on our website. We will respond to your phone call or submission with prompt attention.