If you are currently considering or about to be going through the process of a divorce, you may have heard reference to the term alimony. Alimony is a central aspect of many divorce cases, so it is critical that you understand what it is and how it may affect you, whether you are parting with your spouse amicably or are managing a dispute between the parties.
What You Need To Know About Alimony
Alimony is the legal term for monetary provisions granted to a spouse; the other spouse is ordered by the court to pay alimony, so the money comes from one spouse, not from the government. Because of this, a number of factors determine how much alimony is granted, if any, and how often or how much is paid.
One spouse in a divorce may be entitled alimony if they were the primary household caretaker and experienced a lapse in employment as a result, if they chose to forego training in order to raise a family, or if they need assistance becoming self-sufficient in other ways. These are just a few of many possible scenarios where a court may order that the higher-earning spouse pay alimony.
How Alimony Is Determined?
A variety of factors determine both the amount and payment frequency of alimony, as well as whether either spouse qualifies. These factors are all set forth in statutes passed by the Maryland Legislature, and they guide the Court in determining if alimony is appropriate, and if so, how much and for how long.
One Spouse Must Be Substantially Dependent Upon The Other
In order to qualify for alimony, one spouse must be substantially dependent upon the other. The amount of alimony owed will then be determined based upon providing the dependent spouse with appropriate financial security until he or she is able to complete the training, education, interviews, or other processes required to become self-sufficient.
The Length Of The Marriage & The Age Of Spouses
The alimony total is also influenced by the length of the marriage and the age of each spouse. In addition, their health, income and assets, debts, and even the reason for the marriage’s breakup can all be considered to determine an appropriate payment amount.
Alimony Modifications & Enforcements
Just because alimony is determined by a court does not mean that it is an unchangeable standard once the divorce proceedings are underway. An alimony judgment may be revisited and modified if circumstances or supporting evidence change in order to more fairly distribute money between the parties. However, alimony reached in an agreement where both spouses agree in writing that the alimony is not modifiable will be enforced by the Court.
Similarly, if the higher-earning spouse is experiencing financial hardship or has become self-employed, this may impact the amount or payment frequency of the alimony.
Alimony Is No Longer Taxable Or Tax Deductible For New Agreements & Court Orders Since January 1, 2019
Laws regarding taxation on alimony have been undergoing changes in recent years. Regardless of whether alimony was agreed upon by both parties or mandated by a court, the general rule had been that it was taxable to the recipient spouse and tax-deductible to the supporting spouse.
However, the IRS has recently published clarification of recent rulings on alimony taxation that state, “Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible from the income of the payer spouse, or includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed after Dec. 31, 2018. On the other hand, generally alimony or separate maintenance payments are deductible from the income of the payer spouse and includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed by Dec. 31, 2018.” Because the laws surrounding alimony are currently undergoing changes, it is best to speak with a divorce lawyer who can assist you in understanding how alimony affects your financial situation.
What Is Indefinite Alimony?
It is also the role of the court to determine whether payments will continue only for a specified period of time or whether the alimony payments are indefinite. Indefinite does not mean permanent alimony. It means the alimony will continue until the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient or if either party asks the Court to revisit the alimony by filing a case to extend, modify or terminate the indefinite alimony obligation.
Speak To An Experienced Family Law Attorney
The law surrounding divorce and alimony is complex, and decisions made regarding seemingly minute details can have significant consequences on your divorce case. That is why it is critical to work with a skilled family law attorney or divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you are receiving the best outcome possible. SIEGELLAW would be happy to assist you in creating an alimony arrangement with your spouse so that you can plan for your financial future. Speak to the experienced Maryland divorce attorneys by calling (410) 792-2300 or by requesting a consultation online.