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How does “transitional” alimony work?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed September 2021

“Transitional” alimony is to help a spouse get used to life after a divorce. It is to help the spouse who gets alimony move on to changes in lifestyle or location.


Vicky and Tom are getting divorced. Vicky is keeping their apartment and furnishings. Tom has to get his own apartment. He also needs furniture and appliances. The judge might order Vicky to pay Tom enough transitional alimony to get the things he needs.

Zoe and Andrea are getting divorced. They used to go to work together. Now Zoe commutes by herself. The judge might order Andrea to pay Zoe transitional alimony to pay for her commute for a year.

How long does a couple have to be married for the judge to order transitional alimony?

The judge can order transitional alimony only where the length of the marriage is 5 years or less.

How long can transitional alimony last?

The judge can order transitional alimony for up to 3 years.

What does transitional alimony end?

Transitional alimony ends:

  • when the spouse who gets it dies, or
  • on the date the judge ordered it to end.

Can transitional alimony be changed?


The judge cannot modify, extend, or replace transitional alimony with another kind of alimony

For more details about transitional alimony see General Laws, Chapter 208, section 52.

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