Alimony is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Determining the length of time alimony must be paid in Maryland can be particularly challenging because it involves considering various factors. To help you better understand alimony, our knowledgeable Maryland family law attorneys discuss the multiple factors that can determine the length of alimony in Maryland.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. This may consist of periodic payments from one spouse to another or a single lump sum payment. Spouses can agree on the terms and conditions of alimony on their own, or a family court judge can set the terms and conditions.
Once set, alimony can only be modified due to a substantial change in circumstances for one or both parties unless the divorce judgment expressly states that alimony is not subject to modification by the court.
Types of Alimony in Maryland
Maryland has two main types of alimony:
- Temporary alimony
- Alimony after the divorce
Temporary alimony, also referred to as “alimony pendente lite,” may be awarded to be paid while the divorce is pending. This alimony is awarded to provide financial support to a dependent spouse while the divorce terms are litigated but end once the divorce is final.
Alimony after the divorce can be classified as either rehabilitative or indefinite. Rehabilitative alimony starts after the final divorce but is only awarded for a limited period (3-10 years on average). The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help the recipient meet temporary financial needs while, for example, acquiring the training or education necessary to become self-supporting.
Indefinite alimony, as the name implies, can be awarded when the recipient’s need for alimony is expected to be indefinite. Indefinite alimony is intended to provide financial support to a spouse incapable of becoming self-supporting at a standard of living comparable to what they became accustomed to during the marriage.
In either case, alimony in Maryland typically ends when either the recipient or the payor dies, the recipient remarries, or when the court finds it necessary for fairness or to avoid gross inequities between the parties.
Factors Affecting The Length of Alimony In Maryland
Alimony is not a right in Maryland; it is a remedy that will only be ordered if one spouse needs alimony and the other can pay. Where there is both a need and an ability to pay alimony, a judge must consider a variety of factors in deciding how long alimony must be paid, including:
- Length of the marriage: With rehabilitative alimony, the goal is for the recipient to become self-supporting within a reasonable period. However, what is considered a reasonable period can vary greatly depending on the length of the marriage. Generally, the duration of alimony will increase with the duration of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s income and financial resources: The court will consider the parties’ relative earning capacities, obligations, needs, and financial resources. This includes assessing each spouse’s earning capacity and assets, as well as income from pensions, profit-sharing or retirement plans, and all other sources of income.
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage: Courts recognize a dependent spouse’s right to maintain the standard of living they became accustomed to during their marriage, as much as possible. Suppose one spouse has significantly more income or resources, and the other spouse lacks the means to maintain a similar lifestyle. In that case, the court may award alimony indefinitely to bridge the gap.
- Each spouse’s education and training: What ability and opportunity does the recipient have to secure the education and training needed to become self-supporting? How long will it take for the recipient to secure further education and training to improve their earning capacity reasonably?
- The ages of the spouses: The court may consider any physical disability or incapacity due to any chronic or debilitating illness or injury. If, for example, one of the parties is permanently disabled and unable to support themselves, the court may award alimony indefinitely.
- Each spouse’s contributions and sacrifices: The court will consider the individual contributions and sacrifices (financial and non-financial) made during the marriage to support their family’s well-being, the other’s spouse’s education or career, and their children’s education.
For More Information, Contact an Experienced Maryland Family Law Attorney
There is no formula for calculating the duration of alimony in Maryland, and many factors must be considered. Because of this, it can be tough to know what to expect as either a payer or recipient of alimony.
If you are going through a divorce in Maryland, the best thing you can do is let an experienced Maryland family law attorney from our law firm help you obtain the most desirable outcome. Contact SIEGELLAW by calling (443) 230-4674 or requesting a consultation online.