Alimony in Maryland Explained: The Criteria Considered in the Decision

How Is Alimony in Maryland Determined?

Alimony or spousal support is financial compensation that is granted to one person by their former spouse after a divorce. A judge will usually declare that a certain amount be paid to that party for a specified time period, although spousal support can be indefinite in some cases.

The primary criteria that a judge in the state of Maryland will use in determining alimony awards are as follows:

  1. Marriage length. A judge will look at how long the couple has been married. Alimony awards differ greatly for a person who was married for three months than for someone who was married for thirty years.
  2. Each person’s age. Age is another important factor. It can determine how many more years both people can reasonably be expected to continue working, or how close they are to retirement. Age can also decide how many years a particular spouse will receive alimony payments.
  3. The standard of living that was established during the union. Living standards can vary from one couple and one divorce case to the next. The court will examine all current income, expenses and luxuries. A judge will want to know how the couple’s money was spent, and whether the standard of living that was created is realistic given their individual situations and financial statuses.
  4. Monetary and non-monetary contributions made by each party. All contributions that were made by the spouses will also be taken into consideration. The judge will want to know if both people worked or if one person stayed home and took care of the children, or if a spouse was disabled and unable to work.
  5. Mental and physical health. The partners’ physical and mental well-being are essential elements. The court will want to know if there are any conditions that could prevent one or both people from working now or in the future. A spouse may currently be receiving government assistance or could face that possibility later on, which can impact their earning potential. It can also play a major role in deciding alimony.
  6. Any active agreements between the spouses. It’s not uncommon nowadays for couples to have alimony language included in their pre- or post-marital agreements. These contracts can stipulate who will receive alimony when, and the duration of those payments. The court may ask for a written copy of this documentation.
  7. Reasons why the couple became estranged. Abuse, desertion, cruelty, separation and other issues that may have caused one or both people to request the divorce will be examined carefully. One party could have been treated unfairly by the other. Both spouses could have also decided to mutually separate and ask for a divorce.
  8. The financial stability of the person who is asking for alimony. The judge will want to know if the partner who may receive alimony can support themself at the present time. They can ask for employment and income information to see if they can afford the necessities for themself and any minor children who are currently living in the marital home.
  9. How long it will take for the person making the alimony request to become financially self-sufficient. If the particular spouse who could be eligible for alimony can’t support themself financially, the judge will want to know how much time it will take for the situation to change. They may allow alimony payments for a certain number of months or years until that person finds stable employment or finishes schooling for a graduate or undergraduate degree that can help them land a long-term career.
  10. Whether or not the person being asked to pay alimony can afford to do so. A judge will also evaluate the finances of the spouse who may be required to pay alimony. Their current income and expenses will be reviewed to find out if making alimony payments could create a possible financial burden. Judges will not grant alimony if the payor cannot afford to do so.
  11. If the mandated alimony would result in a spouse who lives in a resident care complex or a paying partner qualifying for medical assistance benefits earlier than expected. Alimony may impact a person’s existing or future assistance. Receiving or paying alimony could result in medical assistance eligibility that’s earlier than expected.
  12. Each person’s financial resources and requirements. Retirement benefits, financial liabilities and assets and personal property will be examined. One spouse may currently have possession of the marital home. They could also have the family car or truck along with other vehicles or property.

Mortgage loans, school loans, car payments, utility bills and income from jobs and other tasks will be reviewed by the judge. This data can help them decide if a person should receive alimony. It can also confirm whether or not one spouse can pay alimony to their former partner.

Retirement benefits are generally viewed as marital property. Of course, that can depend on if the benefits started before the marriage. A judge will review current and future benefits in making their alimony decision.

Alimony payments may be made on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or other type of recurring basis. Maryland family court judges typically determine that one year of alimony is paid for every three years of marriage on average. However, this can vary from one judge and one court to the next. Payments are only made after a divorce has been granted.

Spousal support or alimony is not the same as child support. A person who has decided to divorce from their former partner may be ordered to pay or receive alimony and/or child support. Child support requests will be evaluated based on the individual request and will take each spouse’s need, financial resources, the needs of the child and other factors into consideration.

Types of Alimony in Maryland

There are two types of alimony in Maryland: rehabilitative alimony and indefinite alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is scheduled for a limited time. It may be ordered to help one party get back on their feet again. Indefinite alimony has no specific end date. Disability, age, illness or financial recovery may cause indefinite alimony to cease. If the person receiving alimony remarries, all alimony payments will end once the new marriage becomes official.

If you have questions or concerns about alimony, you’re not alone. Contact us to schedule a consultation. We’ll sit down with you and address your concerns. Our trained professionals will listen to you and suggest a few actions that can be taken. Divorce isn’t easy. We want to help you get back on your feet and on your way toward living a healthier, happier life.

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