Do You Have To Pay Alimony After Child Support Runs Out?
[This Blog is focused on alimony calculations for marriages less than 20 years with child support payments having been made.]
If you have been paying child support for a long time, and it is about to run out, don’t be surprised if your ex-spouse now wants to be paid alimony. Can they do that?
In Massachusetts, an ex-spouse is entitled to seek alimony for a percentage of the marriage term as provided by G.L c.208, §49.
If your marriage was less than 20 years, any alimony obligations are further governed by G.L. c.208 sec. 53 (g) which provides as follows:
If a court orders alimony . . . subsequent to a child support order, the combined duration of alimony and child support shall not exceed the longer of (i) the alimony or child support duration available at the time of divorce; or (ii) rehabilitative alimony beginning upon the termination of child support.
The key consideration here is accurately measuring the available duration of alimony, which begins at the time the divorce judgment was entered.
Here is a 2019 hypothetical:
Judgment of divorce entered in 2012 on a 17 year marriage.
Child support paid from 2012 to 2019 (kids aged out, no college)
Settlement Agreement provided future alimony left open – no alimony paid between 2012-2019
In this hypothetical, the durational period is up to 80% of the term of the marriage. For a 17 year marriage that is 13.6 years.
13.6 years is the durational period calculated from 2012, not from the date the ex-spouse goes back into court seeking alimony after child support runs out.
This means that alimony is payable only until the year 2025, not 2032, a savings of 7 years worth of alimony payments!
Remember, if you are not currently obligated to pay any alimony it only becomes a legal obligation if ordered by the Court pursuant to a modification petition.
If your ex-spouse seeks alimony in a modification petition he or she must prove there is a material change in circumstances warranting any such financial award. A loss of child support could supply that material change,
Should you be able to come to an agreement with the ex-spouse on alimony, I can draft a joint petition to modify the judgment. It is always better to try and negotiate the outcome in your case, instead of leaving it to a judge. Call my office today at (800) 327-1852 to get started, or send in your question here for a quick Internet i Law conference to get started!
Maura J. Kiefer, Esq.