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Alimony In Divorce

The decision to divorce is often a difficult choice, but once made, it is time to start planning.  If you are nervous about your financial future or the topic of alimony, do not worry; you are not alone.  Mediation allows parties to talk through their feelings and fears about alimony in a safe and confidential setting. 

Confidential discussions during mediation provide parties a productive opportunity to discuss alimony in a stress-free environment.  Guidance from the mediator helps to determine whether alimony is appropriate in the grand scheme of the divorce plan.  Planning budgets to project the income and expenses of the parties and other family members, if children are involved, is a useful exercise.  While divorce can be a financial hardship, the effects of the divorce are minimized by making and following budgets.   Alimony is a tool the parties can use to make a healthy financial plan. 

Parties using mediation decide the issue of alimony with self-determination.  This is often more satisfying than leaving it up to the lawyers or judges, who themselves are often perplexed and challenged to determine what is fair.  Alimony reform is adding even more uncertainty on the topic.    There are several suggested formulas or guidelines to explore.   The MBA/BBA guidelines, the Ginsburg formula, the Scandurra formula, and the 1/3 formula all provide frameworks for analyzing potential alimony amounts and duration. 

Some guidelines suggest durational limits on alimony in relation to the length of the marriage.   Sometimes courts leave duration open ended, perhaps rationalizing that either party may file a complaint for modification in the event of a change in material circumstance.   In mediation, the parties decide what is right for their unique situation.  The flexibility found in mediation is better suited to creating a plan that is agreeable to both parties. 

Alimony is a difficult topic, because no two cases are the same; every divorce is slightly different.   By exploring many different scenarios, mediation participants will have a better understanding of the options and the implications each formula provides.   Mediators are well suited to encourage the creativity of the parties themselves in formulating the divorce plan on an individual basis.  In mediation, the decision about alimony is yours to make.  With guidance, you will make the right choice, because it will be yours. 

Two thirds of help is to give courage. – Irish Proverb

In Massachusetts Alimony is Spousal Support

Don’t be afraid of the “A” word, spousal support is a topic that must be considered in every divorce. When there is economic disparity in wages earned by each spouse, alimony is a tool to assist the financial restructuring of the family. Alimony is gender neutral, it is not punitive, and it is flexible. Alimony may be used for short term or long term arrangements and is dependent upon the needs of the recipient spouse and the financial ability of the payor spouse. Alimony often works in synergy with child support, so it is important to consult financial advisors to determine the tax consequences of an alimony order. This is also true in cases where no children are involved.

Alimony is discretionary, there is no simple formula to make a predictable determination of what a court might order. Under Massachusetts law the court shall consider: the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, the nature and value of the property to be so assigned, the present and future needs of any dependent children of the marriage; and the court may also consider: the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates and the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit, in making an alimony order.

Your mediator will guide you through a critical analysis of the facts of your individual case. In mediation you remain in charge and you and your spouse will determine whether alimony is appropriate, what amount is fair and for how long alimony will continue. Breaking down the family finances and developing a plan to meet the future needs of the reorganized family will determine whether alimony is a tool that will help meet those future financial obligations.

The Worcester, MA divorce lawyers and family mediators at Parker Mediation serve the Central Massachusetts and Boston metro-west communities such as Clinton, Framingham, Fitchburg, Leominster, Marlborough, Millbury, Shrewsbury, Sutton, Westborough and Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Cape Cod divorce lawyer and family mediators at Parker Mediation serve the local communities of Barnstable, Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis, Mashpee, Provincetown and the entire Cape and the Islands.