Alimony (Spousal Support)
As part of a divorce proceeding, the judge will determine whether either party is entitled to alimony (also called spousal support). Alimony is money paid from one spouse to the other as ordered by the Court.
Alimony is based on the need for economic support in order to meet living expenses. In Maryland, alimony is not awarded as a punishment, as compensation, or because the one spouse owes the other a debt. Alimony can only be awarded before a judgment of absolute divorce is entered by the Court. Once alimony is waived by a party, and the divorce is granted, that party cannot come back to the court at a later date and request alimony.
There are three different types of alimony: temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and indefinite alimony. Temporary alimony (or alimony pendente lite) is support paid during the divorce proceedings. The order for temporary alimony terminates at the conclusion of litigation.
Rehabilitative alimony is when spousal support is ordered for a specific period of time to allow the receiving party to complete additional training and/or education in order to become self-supporting.
An award of indefinite alimony means that alimony must be paid indefinitely. In Maryland, it is only awarded in very limited circumstances and only if: 1) it is unlikely the receiving spouse will ever become self-supporting through further education and/or training or 2) Rehabilitative alimony will result in an unconscionable disparity in the respective living standards of the parties.
Whether alimony should be awarded is a fact driven determination that varies case by case. In making this determination, the Court will consider several factors including:
- The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
- The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education and/or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;
- The standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well being of the family;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
- The age of each party;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her own needs while also meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;
- Any agreement between the parties; and
- The financial needs and financial resources of each party.
Alimony, regardless whether temporary, rehabilitative, or indefinite, will terminate: 1) on the date set forth by the court, 2) if either party dies, or 3) if the receiving party remarries. It is also important to note that alimony does have tax consequences – generally the party receiving alimony must declare it as income and the party paying alimony can deduct it from his or her income.
The decision whether to award alimony is fact driven. That is why you want to make sure the judge has all the facts and understands the circumstances before deciding whether to award you or your spouse alimony. Our experienced Maryland alimony lawyers can help make sure that happens. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.