Maryland courts do award alimony, which is the same thing as spousal support. The court has different ways of recognizing alimony or spousal support; the monthly payment can last for an indefinite time period or for a specific time period, or it could be a one- or two-time payment of some sort.
Parties can waive support. Some parties agree not to have spousal support and to never request it in the future. The law does not allow a person to request spousal support after it’s been waived. If the court finds that there is no spousal support order or no amount for spousal support, it’s also very difficult to modify that.
Spousal support is initiated based on the amount of income one spouse receives and several other factors, so, it’s usually a case-by-case determination. The other parent has to request it, and if they don’t, they won’t automatically get it at the time of trial. Spousal support also can be granted pendente lite, which is temporarily before the trial date, in some cases. So, it depends on the circumstances of the case about whether alimony is granted.
How Is The Amount Of Spousal Support Determined In Maryland?
There are several factors that play into the determination of spousal support. In addition to the income of each spouse, the court will also look at the circumstances that led to the destruction of the marriage, the financial situation of the parties, and the sweat equity or the amount of support the party has provided to the marital unit. Then, they have a catch-all factor that looks at anything else that should be considered.
If you look at Title 11 of the Family Law Article, you’ll see that a support obligation can be granted for any different number of reasons. Adultery is a big one. Overall, the court will look at the financial situation of the parties, the ability of a party to be self-supportive, the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, and their physical and mental condition. If one spouse is disabled or has an inability to work, that will be a factor. The court also tries to maintain the status quo of the parties based on quality of life that they lived during the marriage.
As you can see, the main factors involve the financial needs and resources of each party. Determining the obligation requires a very detailed analysis. There is also the popular defense of voluntary impoverishment when someone doesn’t want to pay alimony or wants the other party to pay. I’ve seen people accuse the other party of not working or stopping their work in an effort to receive that alimony or not pay. That defense comes from case law.
Is There Specific Criteria In Maryland When Considering Alimony Awards Such As Length Of The Marriage, Co-Assets, Adultery, Etc.?
One initial determination is whether child support is part of the case. The Court usually calculates alimony before calculating child support. The amount of alimony would be considered income of the payee and subtracted from the income of the payor for the calculation of child support.
When determining the amount of alimony, there are 12 or so factors that the court is required to consider. Factors include the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting, the time necessary for the parties seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment, the standard of living that the party’s established, the duration of the marriage, the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the wellbeing of the family, the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties, the age of each party, the physical and mental condition of each party, the ability of the party from whom the alimony is sought to meet their own needs while meeting the needs of the parties seeking alimony, any agreements between the parties, and the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including all of the income and assets, any awards in the divorce case, the nature and amount of financial obligations of each party, and the rights of each party to receive retirement benefits. Then, the final factor is whether the spouse who was a resident of a related institution as defined in the health article and from whom alimony is sought can become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.
In relation to the answers to the 12 factors, the question that the court also has to deal with is whether they’re going to award temporary alimony, which can last two to five years, or permanent alimony, which can last indefinitely if the spouse needs more assistance. There are some issues that are considered in terms of the educational level of one of the spouses. Let’s say a doctor marries someone who doesn’t have the same level of training and then ends up supporting that person permanently. Also, people who are older or who have medical problems can get permanent alimony, while people who need additional training to get back on their feet can get temporary alimony.
Alimony takes on different forms, but usually the person who is paying alimony would have to have enough income to pay it. In some cases, the alimony is paid by covering the mortgage for the family home or something of that nature, so it’s an open field of how that spousal support is paid or what is paid for.
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