In Massachusetts the spousal maintenance (alimony) statute provides an advisory schedule, based on the length of the marriage, for the court to consider in determining the term of maintenance. Paradoxically, however, as Clare Piro writes in this excellent blog posting, a longer-term marriage, which would typically result in a longer term of support, may in fact do just the opposite. Why? Because the paying spouse may be likely to retire before the end of the term.
In court, the retirement of the paying spouse, if known, could be considered in deciding the duration of maintenance. If it is not known at that time, the paying spouse would need to go back to court to seek a modification if he/she wishes to decrease the length of the support.
In mediation, you can have a discussion that takes into consideration all of the relevant factors without anyone having to petition the court, such as:
The age and health of both parties;
The likelihood that the paying spouse will work beyond a typical retirement age;
The parties’ retirement plans before they decided to separate, and whether they need to be revised after a separation.
A balance needs to be struck between:
The need of the spouse receiving support to have sufficient income; and
The desire of the spouse paying support to retire at a reasonable age and reap the benefits of a long career.