Massachusetts law about alimony

Laws, cases and web sources on alimony law.

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Alimony, Mass. Legal Help, September 2021.
In plain language, explains alimony law in Massachusetts, including an introduction to alimony, the four different types of alimony, and answers to common questions. Includes links to forms.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.208, §§ 48-55 Alimony reform laws

MGL c.208, § 49 Termination, suspension, or modification of general term alimony

"General term alimony shall be suspended, reduced or terminated upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse ... for a continuous period of at least 3 months." General term alimony is one of four different kinds of alimony.

Length of marriage Length of general term alimony
up to 5 years No more than 1/2 the number of months of the marriage 
5 up to 10 years No more than 60% of the number of months of the marriage
10 up to 15 years No more than 70% of the number of months of the marriage
15 up to 20 years No more than 80% of the number of months of the marriage
20 or more years Indefinite

MGL c.208, § 53(b) Amount of alimony

...the amount of alimony should generally not exceed the recipient's need or 30 to 35% of the difference between the parties' gross incomes established at the time of the order being issued.

MGL c.208 Includes other sections which deal with such things as modification, enforcement, assignments in lieu of alimony

Federal laws

P.L.115-97, § 11051 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
Repeal of deduction for alimony payments. For a divorce or separation agreement executed after December 31, 2018, or executed before that date but modified after, alimony is no longer deductible by the paying spouse or counted as income for the receiving spouse for federal tax purposes. This is also the treatment for Massachusetts tax purposes, for tax returns filed for the 2022 tax year and thereafter. For Massachusetts tax returns for tax years prior to 2022, alimony and separate maintenance payments were deductible by the paying spouse and had to be included in the gross income of the receiving spouse. See Alimony, Mass. Dept. of Revenue below.

10 USC § 1408 Payment of retired or retainer pay (military) in compliance with court orders

Selected cases

Web sources

Alimony, Mass. Dept. of Revenue.
Includes "Change to Massachusetts Treatment of Alimony Payments as of January 1, 2022".

FAQs about divorce, Alan Pransky.
A divorce lawyer answers 99 questions about divorce, alimony, child support and child custody. It includes answers to questions like: Can I get alimony?; Can men receive alimony?; What is spousal support?; How will a court determine how much alimony to award to a party?; What is rehabilitative alimony?; What is reimbursement alimony?; What is transitional alimony? and more.

How the court decides on alimony, Mass. Probate and Family Court.
Learn about the criteria judges may use to decide whether and how much alimony to award.

Learn about the types of alimony, Mass. Probate and Family Court.
There are 4 different types of alimony. Find out who can ask for alimony, what the different types of alimony are, and how long alimony lasts.

Request to change your alimony, Mass. Probate and Family Court.
Find out if you are eligible and how to request to change your alimony.

Print sources

Deeley, Megan. “Splitting the difference:  the historical context and practical ramifications of the 2012 Massachusetts alimony reform." Massachusetts Family Law Journal vol. 30 Issue 2.  (April 2012, entire issue, 15 pages.)

Family law and practice, 4th ed., Mass. practice v.1-3, Thomson Reuters, 2013 with supplements. Chapter 53: Alimony.

Financial aspects of divorce in Massachusetts, 2nd ed., 2023, MCLE, Section 2.8 Alimony.
Also includes chapters on sources of income, division of property, and retirement assets among other relevant topics.

"Impact of cohabitation under Alimony Reform Act" by Maureen McBrien, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, April 30, 2012. (40 MLW 1500), available from "Request documents from the law libraries".
This article reviews the conditions under which alimony may be suspended, reduced or terminated.

Lexis Nexis Practice Guide. Massachusetts Family Law, annual, Chapter 5: Alimony: This chapter provides an overview of the alimony laws in Massachusetts including determination of the amount of alimony, the type of alimony, and modifying, terminating or reducing alimony. The chapter also includes relevant case law. 

Massachusetts divorce law practice manual, MCLE, 5th ed., 2023, chapter 9, Alimony.  

Contact   for Massachusetts law about alimony

Last updated: October 5, 2023

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