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The Massachusetts Alimony Statute Requires the Characterization of Alimony Based Upon All Income of the Paying Spouse

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2014 | Divorce & Family

In Zaleski v. Zaleski, the wife appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court the trial court’s decision to calculate alimony only on the husband’s base income, and excluded his bonus income. In reviewing the statute, the Supreme Judicial Court noted that an award of alimony is necessary to assure the self-sufficiency of a spouse who is determined to be dependent, whether for the short or long term. In issuing the alimony award, the alimony award must reflect the parties’ marital lifestyle.

The trial court found that the parties enjoyed during the marriage an upper-middle class lifestyle which included dining out, vacations, memberships in clubs, luxury automobiles, boats, and private school for the children. Even though the husband’s income at times prior to the divorce approached or exceeded $1 Million annually, the court found that the parties spent beyond their means and acquired few assets. Based on these findings, the Supreme Judicial Court stated that the judge did not abuse her discretion in arriving at her award based upon 35% of husband’s income rather than on the calculation of need based on historic marital spending.

The Supreme Judicial Court went on to state further that while the percentage was appropriate, the limitation restricting alimony to the husband’s base alone was inappropriate. The Supreme Judicial Court determined that the wife was also entitled to a percentage of the husband’s bonuses.

If you have any questions regarding alimony, in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss. The attorneys at Hamblett & Kerrigan have experience in handling such situations. Let Hamblett & Kerrigan use their experience to your advantage.


Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court.  Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.