Are There Alimony Guidelines?

            The use of mandatory Child Support Guidelines has made the task of establishing child support much easier more predictable. The same cannot be said for alimony. However, there has been a growing effort to create “Guidelines” to be followed by the Courts in making alimony decisions. Alimony guidelines serve the same purposes as  child support guidelines. Their presence helps Judges and Masters avoid lengthy hearings which require them to make "discretionary" decisions about whether your budget for housing, clothing, food, vacations, etc. is "reasonable".  They also let you know in advance and make your negotiations about this matter more realistic.

The underlying philosophy is similar to that of the child support guidelines. If you cannot afford to live as you want to live after you receive, or after you pay, alimony or child support, then you need to change your lifestyle. Don't ask for more unless you have a compelling reason. 

The hope is that if all judges would use the Guidelines, the inconsistencies in the awards of alimony from judge to judge, and from case to case, might be minimized. For now, however, that remains a wish and an aspiration. However, judges, mediators, lawyers and you should look at the Guidelines which exist and try and decide if they are appropriate in your situation. They are certainly a factor to be considered, and it is likely they will become more and more of a factor as time passes. Here are two links which will take you to what lawyers refer to as “The Kaufman Guidelines” and Kelsey Track Multistate Calculator.   The Kaufman Guidelines have been developed by the Women’s Law Center and are generally considered in a Maryland case. The Kelsey Track System has collected the Guidelines in use around the country and by the American matrimonial Lawyers Association. Remember, they are guides only. They are not binding. You will also observe that they vary in their approach to both the amount and duration of alimony each considers to be appropriate. They seem to mirror the disagreement over that topic which exist throughout our society. Because you are interested in the issue--Massachusetts has recently adopted new Guidelines. The Massachusetts legislature, for reasons I do not know but are apparent, is a leading light on this issue. Mass. Guidelines.

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