What is alimony?
Alimony is the payment of money for support of a spouse or former spouse at stated periods (usually monthly) during the joint lives of the parties so long as they live separate and apart.
Is alimony different than child support?
Alimony is very different than child support. Alimony is paid to support a spouse or former spouse. Conversely, child support is paid to support minor children.
How can alimony be awarded?
Alimony can be awarded by the court to either party based upon a Complaint for Alimony or as part of an action for Annulment or Divorce. Depending on the facts of a case, alimony may be awarded to one spouse while the litigation is pending, as well as at the time of the final divorce. The party seeking an alimony award does not need to have grounds for divorce. If the parties have resolved alimony by written agreement, the court will be bound by that agreement as it relates to alimony. If the parties’ agreement conditions that alimony is “not modifiable by any court,” then the court may not modify the alimony. Conversely, if alimony is awarded by the court, it is always modifiable.
What are the factors the court considers when deciding to award alimony?
When deciding whether to award alimony, the court must consider all factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including: (1) the ability to be wholly or partially self-supporting; (2) the time necessary to gain sufficient education or training to find suitable employment; (3) the parties’ standard of living during the marriage; (4) the duration of the marriage; (5) each party’s contributions, monetary and non-monetary, to the well-being of the family; (6) the circumstances that contributed to the parties’ estrangement; (7) each party’s age; (8) each party’s physical and mental condition; (9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet their own needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony; (10) any agreement between the parties; (11) the financial needs and resources of each party; (12) whether the award would affect State Assistance; (13) whether due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the recipient cannot make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; and (14) whether even after such progress, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.
How long does alimony last?
Maryland law is clear that alimony is not meant to be a lifetime pension. Alimony is typically ordered as a period of rehabilitation. Such rehabilitative alimony is ordered until the spouse receiving alimony can be expected to become self-supporting through education, training or work experience.
However, a court may award indefinite alimony if it finds that: (1) due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or (2) even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.
While indefinite alimony is ordered much less frequently than rehabilitative alimony, indefinite alimony is generally awarded in cases with a long-term marriage (in excess of 20 years) where one spouse will always earn substantially more than the other spouse.
Does alimony end?
Unless the parties agree otherwise, alimony terminates: (1) on the death of either party; (2) on the recipient’s marriage; (3) if the court finds termination is necessary to avoid a harsh and inequitable result; or (4) on a date specified by the court or by the parties’ written Agreement.
If alimony is court-ordered, then it is modifiable upon request of either party, based on a material change in circumstances, until the termination date specified by the court.
Does the court use a formula to determine alimony?
In Maryland, there are no alimony guidelines and there is no set formula used to determine the amount a party may receive. However, in addition to the long list of factors to be considered by the court in deciding how much alimony to award, the court may also look at “alimony guidelines” or “alimony formulas” used by other states.
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