What is alimony?
Alimony is termed as periodic payment to his or her spouse on the either during or after divorce. The general definition of alimony is “the legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after marital separation or divorce.”
What is the purpose of alimony in Maryland?
The purpose of alimony is to present a prospect for the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. If spousal support is awarded, it is usually “rehabilitative alimony” for a certain period of time to allow a dependent spouse to become self-supporting.
When is alimony awarded in Maryland?
Alimony is usually awarded only before the final ending of the marriage. Even if you failed to make a claim for spousal support during the divorce proceeding, you can make a claim for it after the marriage has ended. The Maryland Court of Appeals has noted,” [t]he longstanding rule in Maryland… that the right to claim spousal support is extinguished at the time of the severance of the marital relationship.” However, if you have entered into an agreement regarding spousal support, the court will be bound by that agreement. In other words, the court will not be able to change the agreement as part of your divorce.
An agreement between spouses can be wider than what the court may settle on if asked to award spousal support on its own. For example, the court can award a periodic monetary payment even if the agreement between the divorcing parties may cover payment of a mortgage or other type of support.
Types of alimony in Maryland
- Alimony pendente lite – This type of spousal support is awarded between the time you file for divorce and the time the divorce is final. The purpose of this type of spousal support is to ensure the status quo during the divorce. It does not necessarily mean that you will be awarded spousal support after the divorce if there is a finding of need.
- Rehabilitative alimony – Generally, this is the type of alimony is awarded in most cases. Usually, it comes with a time limit to reach specific goals such as going back to school. For example, a court may award you rehabilitative spousal support for the two years that it takes you to go back to school and finish a degree program that will enable you to better support yourself.
- Indefinite alimony – This type of alimony is awarded very rarely as it has no specific end point. You may receive indefinite spousal support due to your age, an illness or a disability) or in cases where you cannot advance toward supporting yourself or even if you can make reasonable progress; your ex-spouse’s standard of living is unconscionably contrasting from yours. Unconscionably contrasting means that there is a very big and unreasonable difference between your living standards. There are also chances of spousal support being modified, extended, or changed or ended in the future. This may happen if one of the ex-spouses asks the court to consider the spousal support amount in the future due to change in circumstances.
The equal rights amendment ensures that either a husband or a wife in a marriage may be required by the court to pay spousal support in Maryland.
What are the factors that determine alimony in Maryland?
The court shall take into consideration various factor while determining alimony. These factors include:
- The time period for which the marriage subsisted;
- Your financial situation during the marriage, current and in the future;
- Your age, physical and mental health; and
- The reasons for divorce.
For a fair and equitable award, including: but not limited to:
- The capacity of the divorcing parties seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
- The time required for the party seeking alimony to get enough education or training to allow that party to find suitable employment;
- The standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contributions, both financial as well as non-financial, of each of the party to the welfare of the family;
- The circumstances that contributed to the separation of the parties;
- The age of each party to the divorce;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- The capability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;
- Any agreement between the parties;
- The financial needs and resources of each party, which is inclusive of:
All earnings and assets, including all property that does not produce income;
Any monetary award relating to property and award of possession and use of the family property
The nature and amount of the financial obligations of each of the divorcing party; and
The right of each divorcing party to get retirement benefits; and
- Whether the award of alimony would cause a paying spouse or a spouse who is a resident of a care facility with more than two patients to become qualified for medical assistance in advance than would otherwise occur.
Though the court does not use a checklist in determining maintenance stipend, it must take into consideration all the necessary factors, including all those points that are not expressly listed in this section. Other factors can be defined as any factors that the court may deem necessary or appropriate in order to arrive at a fair and equitable award of maintenance stipend.
Alimony and its consequences on tax:
While taking maintenance stipend into consideration, it is vital to look at the tax consequences of the payment. Unless agreed to otherwise, maintenance stipend is taxable to the recipient and deductible from the income of the payor.
Another factor closely related to maintenance stipend is the obligation to pay attorney’s fees. Under current law, one party can be ordered to pay money for the other’s lawyer and for all costs closely related to the divorce case depending on the financial circumstances of the parties. This will include court costs, and in some cases, even the cost of a private investigator.
Enforcement of Alimony Award in Maryland:
An order, award, or decree relating to maintenance stipend or disposition of property may be enforced by contempt proceedings, which are governed by the Maryland Rules. When a person fails to comply with the judgment and fails to pay maintenance stipend, the court may, in appropriate circumstances, hold the person in contempt.
Termination of Alimony in Maryland
Unless agreed to otherwise, maintenance stipend ends on the death of either party, the recipient’s marriage, or if the court finds that termination of maintenance stipend is necessary for fairness.
If you need the help of an Maryland Divorce Lawyer for your Maryland Alimony case, call our office at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland Divorce Attorneys can help you. C