Once upon a time, alimony was expected by women and feared by men. You know the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well, that surely does not apply to seeking or defending against alimony claims in the State of Maryland anymore!
I could spout off the Maryland statutes governing pendente lite alimony, rehabilitative alimony and indefinite alimony, but explaining all of that is far easier than advising you as to the likelihood of either obtaining alimony or defending against an alimony claim.
The bottom line in Maryland is that as long as a Judge (or Master) states on the record or in a written opinion that he or she has followed Maryland Law in fashioning an alimony award–or denying alimony–the odds are incredibly long that such a ruling will be overturned on appeal, unless there is a clear legal error in the case!
So, what does all of this really mean? KNOW THY JUDGE!! Seriously, if you walk into Court not knowing your judge’s beliefs on alimony, you are playing Russian Roulette with your financial life!
A few years ago, I moderated a state-wide seminar on the issue of alimony. I had 8 judges from across the State of Maryland, including Howard, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll and Prince George’s Counties. In attendance were nearly 300 attorneys, additional judges and others, all wanting to learn all of the secrets to obtaining or defending against alimony claims.
The secret did not lie within the law. Sure, I spent five hours, helping to provide tips and scenarios for obtaining and defending against alimony claims, but the single largest “truth” that came out of the seminar was that if you give 8 judges the same scenario and ask for their opinions, you will receive 8 different answers. And sometimes, those answers will be INCREDIBLY different!
Take a 10 year marriage, where the Husband earns 80K, and the Wife earns 30K, and they have 2 kids, ages 5 and 7. The kids are in before and after care since both parents work.
Some judges said they would give alimony to the Wife in this scenario. Some said she should get no alimony, because she can get child support instead!
I will tell you this. Judges try to do the “right thing” for families, but unless you have a knowledgeable attorney who understands the judge’s tendencies for granting alimony in a variety of scenarios, you are at an extreme disadvantage in going to trial.
At SIEGELLAW, we maintain an informal database of judge’s alimony tendencies, and more importantly, we are constantly staying on top of judges’ opinions, where they have granted alimony–and where they have not.