At Ryan Faenza Cataldo, we support clients with very different factors that must be taken into consideration during family law matters, including divorce. In this post of a multi-part series, Attorney Kara Carey gives a download on how the MA Courts rule on alimony — and what factors play into the decision of when, how much, and to who alimony is paid out.

Do I have to pay alimony? Will I receive alimony?

…That depends. Since 2012, there have been significant changes in the Courts relative to alimony. Alimony Reform was enacted, but there was some ambiguity from the courts as to what the new laws meant. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has already ruled on several cases regarding alimony, mainly related to alimony modifications and the differences between agreements before 2012 and agreement made after 2012. However, despite the new law, the basic premise of alimony remains: the recipient must show a need, and the payor must have an ability to pay.

In cases with no children (or no unemancipated children), if there is a discrepancy in the incomes of the parties, it is likely there will be an alimony order. How much will the order be? Generally, the high earner will pay between 30 – 35% of the difference in the incomes of the parties to the recipient.

However, that payment is tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. The amount can also vary from the above range in some circumstances. How long the payments last depends on the age of the parties, length of the marriage, and also, the Judge (see Chapter 208 Section34). If there are unemancipated children, child support may also factor into the equation. In these cases, there is no simple formula as the circumstances of the parties and the facts of each case largely impact how the Judge will view the overall support picture.

Financial matters in a divorce are very complex and fact dependent; consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation to make sure you understand your rights and exposure.


Alimony, of course, is determined based on the circumstances of every divorcing couple. Other questions? We’re happy to answer them- contact us for a consultation.