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Making sense of Massachusetts spousal support

When getting a divorce, there is a lot of legal terminology that may be rather confusing. When it comes to spousal support alone, in Massachusetts there are several different types available, each having specific names, qualifications and limits. What do all of the various spousal support terms mean?

Spousal support is also known as alimony. A person may be entitled to collect alimony from an ex-spouse who has the financial ability to pay, for a set period of time. The length of a support order will be determined in court. A few things that will help in determining how long one may receive support are the duration of the marriage and retirement age.

There are four basic alimony terms which are general term, rehabilitative, reimbursement and transitional. General term support is simply a periodic payment to a former spouse who is considered to be economically dependent. Rehabilitative alimony may be granted to a person until he or she is considered to be fiscally self-sufficient — this is generally accomplished through job training or re-transitioning to the workforce. Reimbursement alimony may be provided for one’s contribution to a former spouse’s financial resources — such as completing school, — and may be given all at once or in periodic payments. Finally, transitional alimony may be paid once or periodically until the recipient has adjusted to post-divorce life.

These are just very basic summaries of the different spousal support terms used in Massachusetts. Further information about which type of alimony one may be entitled to or qualify for may be obtain through an experienced divorce attorney. Economically speaking, life after divorce can be financially challenging for many, and spousal support is meant to ease the burden. With the help of counsel, it is possible to seek a fair alimony arrangement.

Source:, “General Laws: CHAPTER 208, Section 48”, Accessed on Sept. 11, 2015


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