Adultery can affect your divorce in Massachusetts in a number of ways, including your alimony payments. The state passed the Alimony Reforms Act in 2011, under which now MA courts can award different types of alimony, depending on the situation.
Apart from the general alimony or spousal payment (regularly scheduled payment depending on the length of the marriage), the other types of alimony could include:
- Rehabilitative alimony: periodic payment until the spouse becomes financially self-sufficient.
- Reimbursement alimony: periodic or one-time support payment made to compensate the recipient’s contributions to marriage.
- Transitional alimony: periodic or one-time payment to help the recipient make the financial adjustments necessary to transition to life as a single person.
Whether you are contemplating a divorce or have already initiated the divorce proceedings, alimony is a critical aspect with long-term financial implications. To be sure that your interests are fully protected, talk to Jay Davis, who is a top-rated MA divorce lawyer with over 20 years of experience in the field. To schedule a confidential consultation with Jay, call 617-221-3548 today.
Role of Adultery in an MA Divorce
Many states take either a “fault” or “no-fault” based approach to divorce, but Massachusetts has adopted a compromise and allows divorce for fault as well as no-fault. Adultery is one of the eight grounds or legal justifications for divorce that the state will consider in fault-based divorce cases.
If one of the parties is able to present sufficient proof, a Massachusetts court will grant a fault divorce on the basis of adultery. However, choosing to establish adultery in an MA divorce has its pros and cons. The circumstances surrounding adultery might affect other aspects of your divorce, such as child custody or alimony.
These are vital issues where Jay Davis has the expertise to help you formulate the right legal strategy. Jay and his team will carefully evaluate the facts of your case and help you make the best decision about how to proceed with regard to the adultery angle.
How does Adultery Influence Alimony?
It’s paramount to understand what happens if you are able to provide your spouse’s acts of adultery in a divorce court, and whether it will affect the judge’s decision about the alimony award. The law requires MA divorce courts to take each of the following factors into account while determining how much alimony should be paid and for how long:
- Duration of the marriage
- Age of the spouses
- General health condition of the spouses
- Employment or employability and current income of the spouses, including a spouse’s potential to become employed through professional training and reasonable diligence
- Marital lifestyle and the ability of each party to maintain that lifestyle after divorce
- Economic and non-economic contributions of each spouse to the marriage
- Any other issues that the court may consider material and relevant
So, where does adultery feature among these factors that the court will consider? Adultery may be addressed as part of the last factor of “any other issues that the court may consider material and relevant.” Sometimes, though not always, the judge will include adultery as one of those “other issues.” This consideration will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.
In general, the mere fact that adultery happened during the marriage is not sufficient to prevent the adulterous spouse from receiving the alimony that he or she may be otherwise entitled to. In the past, the MA appellate courts have ruled that alimony to a party in a divorce cannot be denied solely on the basis of adultery.
The legal principle behind this is that the purpose of alimony (and property division) in a divorce is to ensure fair and equal distribution of income and assets, and not to penalize bad behavior.
Experienced divorce lawyer Jay Davis has a nuanced understanding of these aspects of Massachusetts divorce laws, and he is best placed to provide you the right legal guidance and support in your divorce. Call 617-221-3548 to schedule an appointment with Jay Davis.
Dissipation of Marital Assets in Adultery
When an adulterous spouse indulges in dissipation of marital assets during the course of an extra-marital affair, a skilled divorce attorney will be able to establish and highlight this fact before the judge. This could have an impact on the alimony decision.
In the 1982 case of Ross v. Ross, the husband used marital funds to pay for the therapy sessions of his mistress. The court decided that his adultery should be accounted for in the alimony award because he had wasted marital funds on another person in an extra-marital affair.
Again in 1991, in McMahon v. McMahon, the appellate court ruled clearly that when a spouse squanders away marital funds on another person who is not the spouse as part of an adulterous affair, the wastage of marital assets must be factored into the alimony award decision.
Speak to Eminent Divorce Lawyer Jay Davis Today!
Davis Law Group has been committed to serving the people of Massachusetts with strong legal advice and support in divorce cases.
Jay and his knowledgeable legal team will guide you through the intricate aspects of your case, and make sure your rights are protected. Call us at 617-221-3548 or write to us online to schedule an appointment with Davis Law Group today.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
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