Your Guide to Alimony in Maryland
In Maryland, receiving alimony during or after a divorce is not a foregone conclusion. Whether an ex-spouse receives the financial support they seek is determined by the Court.
For those seeking alimony in Maryland, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Alimony comes in different forms
In Maryland, there are different types of alimony.
Pendente Lite Alimony, also known as “temporary alimony,” is awarded to one party during the divorce process. The purpose of this form of alimony is to ensure that the requesting party can financially support themselves during the divorce proceedings Awards of pendente lite alimony are based on a need by one spouse and an ability to pay by the other spouse. It needs to be agreed upon or Court ordered so a spouse may not receive pendente lite alimony until much further along in the case.
Rehabilitative alimony, awarded post-divorce, is for parties who need time reenter the workforce or to complete an educational program to seek a higher-paying job. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a short period of time and only after the Court considers various factors, which are described below.
Indefinite alimony is typically given to spouses who are unable to work due to age or disability or who would otherwise experience an “unconscionably disparate” lifestyle from their former spouse.
2. The Court must consider all required factors before making an award of alimony
Maryland law is clear that before a Judge can award alimony at the time of a divorce, the following must be considered:
(a) the ability of a party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
(b) the time necessary to gain sufficient education or training to find suitable employment;
(c) the standard of living during the marriage;
(d) the duration of the marriage;
(e) the monetary and non-monetary contributions each party made to the well-being of the family;
(f) the circumstances that led to the estrangement of the parties;
(g) the age of each party;
(h) the physical and mental condition of each party;
(i) the ability of the party paying alimony to meet his or her own needs while supporting the other party;
(j) any agreement between the parties;
(k) the needs and resources of each party;
(l) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and
(m) if the party receiving alimony would become eligible for medical assistance earlier than otherwise would occur.
Each factor must be weighed separately and the Court can give more weight to one factor over another.
3. There is no required calculator to determine alimony
The amount of the alimony award can vary from case-to-case. Unlike child support, there is no required alimony calculator in Maryland. This is because many of the required factors are intangible, like non-monetary contributions of a party and fault. While attorneys can use their experience and other tools as a guide for calculating alimony, a Court is not required to use a specific calculator, so the amount of an alimony award will depend on the Judge who is hearing the case.
4. Alimony may be modifiable
Alimony can be modifiable by either party unless there is an agreement stating otherwise. If the income or financial situation of the paying spouse or the receiving spouse changes in a meaningful way before the last alimony payment is made, the court may be able to modify the amount of the payment or terminate it altogether. However, if the parties agree in a Marital Settlement Agreement that the alimony terms will be non-modifiable, the court cannot make a modification. Alimony can be terminated upon the death of either party or if the receiving party gets remarried while still receiving payments.
5. Alimony must be requested timely
Alimony can only be granted during the time in which a couple is litigating and/or before they are finally divorced. If one party fails to make a claim for alimony before the divorce is finalized, or a spouse waives the right to alimony in a Marital Settlement Agreement, they have forever waived that right and they cannot come back and ask for it later.
Alimony can be an invaluable resource for those with financial concerns related to their divorce, but the process of securing an alimony award is complex. The team at Wasserman Family Law is available to those looking to discuss seeking financial support.
If you have questions about alimony, contact Laurie Wasserman at email@example.com or call our main number 410-842-1070. For the foreseeable future, we will be available by telephone and virtually to serve our clients.