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In Massachusetts would separation agreement control alimony?

Boston, MA |
Filed under: Divorce Alimony

Me and my wife want to file a no-fault Joint Petition for Divorce. I have quite a bit of income and property but she has no income and no property. She is not interested in getting alimony or property from me and ready to sign the separation agreement accordingly. Would the judge honor the separation agreement which says she will not get any alimony even though she has no income? Or would the judge disregard the separation agreement and grant her alimony anyway?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. There's a possibility the court will reject the agreement as being unfair. It depends on the length of marriage, your ages, employability, education levels, and other factors you did not mention.

  2. If it is a voluntary and knowing waiver after full disclosure assuming she is not disabled and knowing nothing else, a judge may allow it.

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  3. I would expect the Judge to be highly reluctant to approve such an agreement, particularly if you wife is unrepresented by legal counsel.

    This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.

  4. I was before a judge in Norfolk County recently and she / he rejected a separation agreement because there was a risk that the spouse waiving any right to alimony or property division may become a public charge i.e. dependent upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for support such as through transitional assistance or MassHealth. I would be cautious of this situation and would not be surprised if the Judge at the very least has your wife speak with the Lawyer Of the Day prior to determining whether to accept or reject the agreement. I wish you the best of luck

  5. The judge must enter a finding that a separation agreement is fair and reasonable before approving it. A judge will most certainly reject an agreement that is very unfair, and may strongly suggest your wife go consult with an attorney at the hearing. I have even seen judges specifically state how much alimony or property they believe must be given to a spouse at a hearing in which the judge rejects an agreement. Depending on the circumstances, this has the potential to be a rather bad situation for you. On the other hand, an agreement granting her no alimony or property might be fair and reasonable if your marriage was very brief (less than two years). It is very common for agreements to include a "alimony buyout" provision in which a spouse receives a one time lump sum payment from the other spouse in exchange for waiving alimony forever. If you are in serious doubt, you should consider inserting an alimony buyout provision that provides her with a chunk of money. It is impossible to say how much would be an appropriate buyout as "quite a bit of income and property" is somewhat vague. In any event, it sounds like you have enough to lose in this situation to make a phone call to an attorney worthwhile for you. If you leave it completely in the judge's hands, you might find events slipping out of your control very quickly.

    The representations made herein are for informational purposes only, and are expressly not legal advice. Please consult a legal professional to resolve your legal issue.

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