Getting a divorce is not only the process of physically separating from a spouse. Getting a divorce involves much more, as assets, debt, child custody, and support payments must be taken into consideration. According to a study published by the Journal of Couple Family Psychology, the most common reasons for divorce are lack of commitment to the marriage, infidelity, and conflict or arguing. Because marriages often end over contentious matters, couples considering divorce should expect some friction throughout the process.
Alimony is a significant aspect of divorce proceedings. Determining which spouse is to receive alimony, also known as spousal support, can be a matter of extreme disagreement, even if state law governs who is required to award alimony payments. Courts use state law to guide them in determining which spouse receives support payments, the amount of the support payments, and the duration of the support payments.
Lebovitz Law LLC provides divorce and other family law legal services to clients not only in Towson but also clients throughout Baltimore County, the entire state of Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania. Divorce and the discussion of alimony do not need to be a horrible experience. Consider contacting Lebovitz Law LLC if you are looking for legal support and guidance.
Alimony or spousal support is a normal part of the divorce process in Maryland. Alimony is when one spouse makes periodic support payments to the other spouse, the purpose of which is to help the spouse receiving support payments to eventually become financially independent.
When a divorce severely changes the circumstances for one spouse who may not have been working, the other spouse may be obligated, as part of a divorce settlement, to make reasonable and fair payments for as long as a court believes such payments are necessary. It is important to note that if an agreement has been made between two spouses concerning alimony, a court will likely abide by that agreement (so long as the agreement is valid under Maryland law).
There are 3 types of alimony that the courts in Maryland will typically assign:
Alimony Pendente Lite – This type of alimony is temporary and ends once the judge issues a new order or the divorce is finalized.
Rehabilitative Alimony – This type of alimony is intended to get one spouse back on his or her feet and is the most likely type of alimony to be awarded as part of a divorce proceeding. Rehabilitative alimony has an expiration date set by the court. For example, a judge may order that alimony last for two years while the receiving spouse becomes financially stable.
Indefinite Alimony – This type of alimony is, as the term suggests – indefinite. In other words, alimony has no specific endpoint identified by the court. The award of indefinite alimony payments is rare in Maryland, and such alimony may be awarded in cases where one spouse has a medical condition or disability that prevents him or her from becoming financially independent. Another reason for the award of indefinite alimony is when there is an “unconscionable” difference between the living standards of the spouse making spousal support payments and the spouse receiving the payments.
A court must review numerous factors to determine which spouse should be awarded alimony, the amount of alimony awarded, and the duration of alimony payments. Examples of a few factors courts consider when ordering alimony include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
The ability of either spouse to become financially independent;
The amount of time required for one spouse to gain education and training (such as attending college or vocational school) to eventually gain employment and become financially independent;
The standard of living established during the marriage;
The duration of the marriage;
Monetary contributions made by both spouses during the marriage;
The circumstances that contributed to the reasons(s) why the couple is getting divorced;
Whether any prior agreements existed between the two spouses concerning alimony; and
The age of each spouse.
A change in either spouse’s circumstances may warrant modification of an existing spousal support order. For example, if the spouse making spousal support payments loses his or her job, a court will have to reevaluate both spouses’ financial situation to determine in what way a support order needs to be adjusted to ensure fairness for both parties.
If you are currently involved in a divorce proceeding or have questions about beginning the process, Lebovitz Law LLC can help. Work with an experienced Towson, Maryland family law attorney who can review your situation and provide you with the best options to reach your goals. Lebovitz Law LLC serves clients throughout Baltimore County, the state of Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania. Schedule your consultation today.