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A Guide To Alimony in Maryland

by | Aug 30, 2022 | Family Law

What is alimony?

Alimony is a certain amount of money that one party is required to pay the other person. This usually happens after a divorce in Maryland. The judge overseeing the divorce hearing will make determinations as to who will be responsible for receiving and paying alimony and when those payments are to be made.

What’s the Difference between Alimony and Child Support?

Child support is intended to pay for education, healthcare and other expenses associated with raising a child. Alimony is designed to assist a parent supporting themself and their family financially. It may allow them to go back to school or seek employment that let them keep the status quo that was established before the divorce.

In many divorces, the spouse who earned less on average annually is the person who receives alimony. If both parties earned around the same each year, alimony may not be necessary. The judge may ask for copies of financial statements and records before deciding whether alimony will be awarded.

How is alimony determined?

Partners may make decisions regarding alimony when the marital settlement agreement is created. A judge can also establish alimony during divorce proceedings. The general rule of thumb is that one year’s worth of alimony is to be paid for every three years of marriage. However, this can vary from one court to another.

How long does it take to start receiving alimony?

Alimony is usually only paid after a divorce has been awarded. It may take a few weeks for the first alimony payments to arrive, depending on when the divorce is finalized and when they payor is paid by their employer. Most alimony payments are made monthly, although there may be instances in which one party may be required to pay the other   person via property transfer or cash in a lump sum. This may be necessary to pay for unexpected medical bills or maintenance, for example. Any property transfers that would be made for this reason would be outside of the standard property division that is typical in most divorces.

A judge may also reward alimony to one person for a limited time before the divorce is official. This is known as alimony pendente lite. These payments would be made from the time that the divorce has been filed until it has been finalized. They may help the receiver keep the same status quo that was developed during the marital union.

Who is required to pay alimony?

Only one person will be required to pay alimony. Finances, the needs of each party, children and other factors will be taken into consideration. Alimony will be evaluated by a judge so that neither party is put at an unfair advantage.

The divorce decree will spell out the amount and duration of alimony payments. Both parties will receive a copy of this agreement. It will also include details such as how the payments are to be taken out and what needs to happen if the payor loses their job or changes employers.

How can I ask for alimony?

Alimony can be requested in the marital separation agreement. You can also ask for alimony during the divorce proceedings. If alimony is clearly spelled out in the marital separation agreement, the court may hold both parties to that arrangement.

How long is alimony paid?

Most alimony cases in Maryland are temporary or indefinite. Temporary alimony is also referred to as rehabilitative alimony. It may help one person continue their education or search for a better job so that they can become financially self-sufficient. This can be anywhere from a few months to up to ten years on average.

Indefinite alimony may be given if a person will have difficulty supporting themself. They could be disabled or have suffered an injury that prevents them from making reasonable progress toward that goal. It could also be awarded if there is a significant disparity between the income and standard of living for each party.

Can I ask for alimony to be modified?

Alimony may be adjusted from time to time. You’ll have to petition the court before alimony can be modified. You should be prepared to provide reasons for your request, such as a change of employment or financial situation, for example.

What happens if alimony isn’t paid as agreed?

It’s very common nowadays for alimony to be taken out of the payor’s checks  automatically. They should be aware of this before the fact and inform all involved parties of any changes in their employment information or other relevant details as needed. The judge may make determinations as to what will happen if more time is needed due to a change of financial institution or employer.

If a person doesn’t make the required alimony payments, they could be found to be in contempt of court if they are still able to financially make those payments. A fine and/or jail time could be ordered. These penalties can be increased for each subsequent violation. Money or property could also be seized to satisfy the alimony requirement.

A payor who is not able to make alimony payments should contact the court as soon as   possible to avoid being found in contempt. Just keep in mind that the payee has the right to request an earnings withholding order. This order will allow alimony payments to continue by taking out the requisite funds from the payor’s worker’s compensation or Social Security checks, unemployment benefits and certain pension plans as required.

When does alimony end?

Alimony will end if the payor or payee passes away. If the person receiving alimony gets remarried, their alimony payments will terminate once the new marriage becomes       official. In other cases, alimony will terminate according to the terms of the alimony agreement. There may be instances where the judge decides to extend alimony as needed.

Alimony can be confusing. If you have questions, we’ve got plenty of answers. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to your concerns and provide advice. We can even represent you in court if you wish. Alimony was created to help one party regain stability in their life. It may take some time, but eventually both sides will be able to put the divorce behind them and look forward to better, brighter days in the future.