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Recent Maryland Court of Special Appeals Ruling on Alimony

Maryland’s second highest court filed an opinion in the case of Guzman Cruz v. Clemencia Silva on November 25, 2009, which held that a spouse can be awarded alimony absent a divorce. The idea of alimony disconnected from a divorce, although a strange scenario for most to imagine, has long been a reality in Maryland. For more information regarding alimony see our October 2, 2009 and October 13, 2009 blog posts.

The Cruz’s came to the Circuit Court for Princes George’s County on January 9, 2008, both seeking a divorce but did not prove legally sufficient grounds for the divorce. However, the Judge awarded custody of the two minor children to Clemencia, ordered Guzman to pay her $764.00 per month in child support, and $1,500.00 per month in alimony. Guzman appealed to the Court of Special Appeals contending that the trial court erred in awarding alimony to Clemencia without granting a divorce and without properly determining the type and amount of alimony. The Court stated that Maryland has long recognized that the common law obligation of alimony was the obligation of husband to provide support to wife (or wife to husband). This is evidenced by Maryland Code, Family Law Section 11-101(a)(1), which provides that a court may award alimony not only in a decree of divorce, but also in a bill of complaint for alimony. The Court of Special Appeals held that while a spouse can be awarded alimony absent a divorce, that in this case the award was an error as a spouse still has to prove a case that would entitle him or her to alimony.

For more information on alimony with our without a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney.