If you are currently going through a divorce or are about to enter divorce proceedings, you likely have a number of questions about how the process works and more importantly, how long does alimony last in Maryland? One of the most critical factors that may influence your future after divorce is alimony in those cases where alimony is an issue. Understanding how alimony works in Maryland, how it is determined, how it is paid out, and for how long will enable you to make smart decisions about your financial future and make plans that take alimony into account.
What Does Alimony Refer To?
Alimony refers to a payment by one former spouse to another. Currently, under Federal law, alimony is no longer taxable to the recipient nor tax deductible to the payor, unless it is from a pre-2019 award of alimony.
The recipient spouse typically receives alimony in order to provide him or her with the financial resources necessary to become self-sufficient after a divorce. This may be necessary for situations where one spouse stepped out of the workforce to raise children or if a spouse otherwise relied on the other partner to provide income. The imbalance of incomes and earning capacity, combined with the length of the marriage, are often major factors within a conversation about alimony.
It is important to keep in mind that alimony can only be awarded before or at the official end of a marriage. In other words, alimony must be requested as part of a divorce; if you end a marriage and then decide later that you would like to file for alimony, you will not be permitted to do so. Alimony agreed/awarded during the marriage may be subject to modification, unless there is a written agreement barring modification of alimony. Alimony may be negotiated between the two separating spouses, or it can be determined by a court.
Types Of Alimony
Alimony comes in a variety of types that depend in many ways upon the state of the dependent spouse upon divorce.
Pendente Lite Alimony
Pendente lite alimony is paid during the divorce proceedings; it is intended to keep finances functioning as during the divorce proceedings. Receiving pendente lite alimony does not guarantee that you will pay or receive alimony once the divorce has been finalized.
Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony awarded. This type of alimony is typically restricted to a certain time limit based upon the dependent spouse’s needs prior to becoming self-sufficient. If the spouse needs two years to pursue education required to reenter the workforce, alimony might be granted for two years. It has an end date.
Unlike rehabilitative alimony, indefinite alimony may continue for an undetermined period of time. If the lesser earning spouse cannot make reasonable progress toward supporting him or herself, most often due to disability or age, the other spouse will be responsible for alimony for an indefinite amount of time.
Indefinite alimony is also sometimes awarded in cases in which the standard of living between the two former spouses is “unconscionably disparate,” or when the higher-earning spouse enjoys a much higher quality of life than the other, regardless of whether the lesser earning spouse is self-sufficient.
Factors For Consideration When Evaluating Alimony
Many factors should be under consideration when evaluating alimony in a divorce trial, as opposed to the pendente lite hearing, where the standard is needs vs. ability to pay. These include:
- How long you have been married
- The reasons you are getting divorced
- What the financial situation looked like during the marriage
- The ability of both spouses to be financially self-sufficient
- How long the dependent spouse will take to find suitable employment
- The contributions of each party to the family (both monetary and non-monetary)
- The income and assets of each party
- The financial obligations of each party
- The right of each party to receive retirement benefits
These are just a few of the many considerations that a court will review when determining whether a spouse qualifies for alimony and in what amount.
The Finances Of Alimony
The amount of alimony awarded, as well as how often it is paid out will be determined by the court. Once alimony is awarded, the payments will likely not be taxable or tax deductible depending on the circumstances. For agreements prior to January 1, 2019, alimony is typically taxable for the recipient and deductible from the income of the payer. For agreements after January 1, 2019, alimony is not deductible or taxable. Modifications of alimony from prior to January 1, 2019, usually will retain their taxable/tax deductible nature.
How Long Does Alimony Last In Maryland?
How long alimony lasts depends upon the type of alimony that the court granted. Pendente lite alimony ends once the divorce proceedings end, since it is intended primarily to maintain the standard of living for both parties during the divorce.
Duration Of Rehabilitative Alimony
Rehabilitative alimony has a fixed end date determined by the court to be when the dependent spouse has completed the tasks that will allow him or her to self-sustain or be close enough to warrant the ending of alimony. This timeline varies by case.
Duration Of Indefinite Alimony
Indefinite alimony continues for an undefined amount of time. However, it ends upon the death of either party or if the recipient spouse remarries.
Reach Out To A Maryland Divorce Attorney
Alimony may also be ended or reduced at any time if the court finds that continuing to pay alimony is unfair; this may occur if continuing to pay may result in a harsh or inequitable result for the payer, such as if payments will cause financial insolvency.
The experienced Maryland divorce attorneys at SIEGELLAW can guide you through the complexities of alimony determinations to help you ensure you are treated fairly during the process. Reach out today by calling (410) 792-2300 or by requesting a consultation online.