Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment or a series of payments made from a former spouse to the other that serves as a continuation of the economic responsibilities made during the marriage. There are three types of alimony awarded in Maryland. The first is pendente lite alimony (PL alimony) which is awarded to a spouse during the limited period while the case is pending. The purpose of PL alimony is to keep the status quo of the parties while the divorce action is pending, so that one party does not have an unfair economic advantage over the other. The second type of alimony is rehabilitative alimony. This is alimony that is awarded by the Court only for a set period of time. This period of time is for the purpose of allowing the receiving former spouse to rehabilitate themselves from economic dependence to economic independence through education or training. The third type of alimony is indefinite alimony which the Court only awards in 2 situations. First, when due to age, illness, infirmity or disability the former spouse seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make progress towards becoming self-supporting. Second, when even after the former spouse seeking alimony will have made progress towards becoming self-supporting, the parties’ respective living standards would be unconscionably disproportionate.
Many clients inquire as to how alimony is determined and may be under the wrong impression that like child support , alimony is calculated using a set guideline or formula. There is no formula or guideline for calculating alimony in Maryland, and it is the Judge’s discretion as to whether or not to award alimony. The amount and duration of alimony in Maryland is determined by the Court after considering a list of factors. Maryland Code, Family Law 11-106 states the factors, which are as follows:
(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;
(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
(4) the duration of the marriage;
(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
(7) the age of each party;
(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;
(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;
(10) any agreement between the parties;
(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:
(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;
(ii) any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;
(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and
(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and
(12) whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health – General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.
If you are seeking alimony, an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer will be able to assist you in exploring your options.