The goal of spousal support or alimony is to provide financial security to the lower-earning spouse, to make sure their quality of life doesn’t suffer drastically at the end of a marriage. The court can order one spouse to pay alimony to the other or the couple can agree on an appropriate amount. Once the agreement is reached, the paying spouse must continue to comply with the terms of this legally-binding agreement. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences.
There are, however, certain circumstances that can impact whether the paying spouse will continue to be obligated to pay support. One such factor is remarriage; exactly how remarriage affects the support will depend on the situation. If the spouse who is receiving alimony remarries, the payments may stop. But if the spouse who is paying alimony remarries, their new relationship usually won’t relieve them of their obligations to an ex.
So, if you are wondering whether you will still have to pay spousal support if YOU get remarried, the answer is yes. If you’d like to talk to a Massachusetts divorce attorney about changing your alimony order or you need advice on whether you will be required to pay support as part of your divorce, give us a call at 617-221-3548 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Davis Law Group, led by seasoned family law attorney Jay Davis, specializes in every aspect of divorce in Massachusetts, from property division to alimony to child custody and support.
Understanding Alimony in Massachusetts
Technically known as spousal support, alimony is money one party (in a marriage) is legally obligated to pay the other party. It can be paid for a short period of time or until one of the spouses passes away.
In Massachusetts, the main consideration in calculating the amount of alimony is each party’s current income or overall capacity to generate income. There are, moreover, several other factors that come into play when the court determines the total sum a spouse will have to pay:
- How much the receiving spouse (supported party) contributed to the career or education of the paying spouse (supporting party)
- Each spouse’s assets and liabilities
- Each spouse’s needs based on their standard of living as set forth during the marriage
- The paying spouse’s ability to pay
- Each spouse’s age and health
- The duration of the marriage
- Tax repercussions for each spouse
- Evidence of any history of criminal convictions or domestic violence
- Any other factors the court deems fair and necessary to consider
Again, the actual amount of alimony is almost always a certain percentage of the paying spouse’s income. But the above-mentioned factors are also considered when making that determination.
Alimony is typically only meant to help the lower- or no-income earning spouse to get on their feet. It’s possible for a judge to reconsider and modify the initial support agreement if the receiving spouse seems to be doing well for themselves without having to rely on the alimony payments.
For instance, if one spouse stayed home to take care of the kids while the other was the only one making money, the court may award the stay-at-home spouse support so they can gain the skills necessary to obtain a job. Once the stay-at-home spouse starts earning enough to support themselves, the paying spouse may be able to request a change in the amount of alimony.
As one of the top family and divorce law firms in Massachusetts, we understand how the state law applies to your unique case. If you’d like to discuss your spousal support situation, please contact us for a case evaluation by phone at 617-221-3548 or send us a message here.
What if a Spouse Gets Remarried?
The alimony law in Massachusetts was amended in 2012 to include a provision that terminates or reduces spousal support if the receiving spouse starts living with a new partner.
But please don’t just assume that this termination comes into effect on its own. To end the alimony order, the “termination upon remarriage” clause must be stated in the original judgment of divorce. If not, the court will make a decision based on the case in question. Also, if the new relationship or marriage ends, support can’t be reinstated unless that was specifically stated in their divorce judgment.
The new law does allow for support payments to be reduced or suspended altogether if the receiving spouse gets into a new relationship and receives economic benefits. But this can only happen if the paying spouse can prove that their ex has been co-habitating for at least 3 months.
Whether you’re the paying spouse or the receiving one, if you want to change your alimony arrangement, you need to file a “Complaint for Modification of Alimony” with the court to modify/discontinue the amount of support you’re paying/receiving. You will also need to prove that there has been a significant change in either your ex’s or your ability to pay.
Consult with a Top-Rated Divorce Lawyer in Massachusetts
Attorney Jay Davis of Davis Law Group is one of the most sought-after divorce lawyers in Massachusetts, not only because of his extensive experience, but also his ability to help his clients move from feeling overwhelmed and fearful to organized and empowered. If you’re contemplating or going through the divorce process, Jay will help you create an action plan that is solution-based and guide you every step of the way. To set up an appointment, please call us at 617-221-3548 or drop us a message online.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
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