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Alimony FAQs

If you are considering divorce, you may have some questions about alimony.  As such, we have compiled a list of commonly asked alimony questions for your consideration.

What is alimony?

Alimony is a cash payment from one spouse to the other. The court can order alimony, or the parties can agree to it in a divorce settlement.  The idea behind alimony support is that the money paid by one spouse will be used by the other spouse to become self sufficient.

Who can get alimony?

Under the laws of the state of Maryland, both the husband and the wife qualify for alimony.  However, alimony is not automatic.  A decision about alimony is based on certain factors the court considers.  Of course, in a negotiated settlement, the lawyers will review the same factors to determine the likelihood alimony would be awarded if they went to court.  Lawyers will then rely on their review when making settlement offers to the other side.

What factors do the courts consider when determining whether someone qualifies for alimony?

The court looks at a long list of factors.  These include:

  • Each party’s ability to self support, in whole or in part
  • How long it reasonably might take for the party seeking alimony to gain the training or education necessary to find employment that will make them self supporting
  • The standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage
  • How long the parities were married
  • Each party’s contribution to the marriage. This includes not only monetary contributions, but non monetary contributions to the family’s well being
  • Circumstances that contributed to the divorce
  • Each party’s age
  • Each party’s mental condition, and physical condition
  • The ability of the party to pay alimony and remain self supporting themselves
  • Agreements made between the parties, such as a prenuptial agreement or post nuptial agreement
  • Each party’s financial needs and resources, including
    • Income and assets
    • Award of the possessions, property awards, and use of the family property
    • Each party’s financial obligations
    • Retirement benefits as well as
    • Medical assistance considerations.

In addition, the court may rely on other factors that the court deems appropriate or necessary in obtaining a fair and equitable award.

Is alimony for life?

Not usually.  There are actually three different kinds of alimony.  These include alimony pendente lite, rehabilitative alimony, and indefinite alimony.  However, even indefinite alimony may not be for life.

What is alimony pendente lite?

Courts award alimony pendente lite between the filing of the divorce and the finalization of the divorce.  The purpose of alimony pendente lite is keeping the “status quo” during the divorce.  Awarding alimony pendente lite is no guarantee that a court will order alimony post-divorce.

What is rehabilitative alimony?

Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony awarded in Maryland.  Courts award this type of alimony with time or goal limited conditions.  For example, if the court determines a person can become more self-sufficient with two years of schooling, the order may provide for alimony for between three and seven years.  Typically, courts rely on professionals when determining how much education or experience will assist someone in gaining self-sufficiency.

What is indefinite alimony?

It is pretty rare for courts to order indefinite alimony.  However, when someone cannot make “reasonable progress” towards supporting themselves, or the spouse’s income and standard of living are “unconscionably disparate” from the person petitioning for alimony, the courts may award it.  For clarity, “unconscionably disparate” means the difference between the living standards of the parties are unfair and very large.  If the circumstances of the parties change, the court may modify the order.

So is indefinite alimony life?

No.  The court can modify the alimony if the circumstances change.  Alimony will also end when one of the parties dies.  Finally, if the party receiving alimony remarries, this terminates any alimony obligation.

I didn’t ask for alimony during my divorce, but I am finding it hard to make ends meet.  Can I go back to court and ask for alimony?

If the divorce is final, then no.  Maryland law requires the parties bring up the issue of alimony before the divorce is final.

Divorcing?

If you are divorcing, rely on the experienced team of family law professionals at Fait & DiLima.  Our attorneys, paralegals, and case managers work on family law cases full time.  We have the experience and staff to serve you and your divorce and family law needs.  Call today at 301.251.0100.

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