One of the most common challenges in divorce proceedings is determining alimony. Alimony is a periodic (often monthly) payment made by one former spouse to the other so that the recipient spouse can become self-supporting following a divorce. Per Maryland’s equal rights amendment, either a husband or a wife in a marriage may be required by the court to pay alimony. Once the divorce is final neither spouse has the right to claim alimony, so claims must be made and awarded as part of the divorce process. The amount, frequency and time horizon for alimony payments is determined on a case-by-case basis per the circumstances of each marriage and couple.
Circumstances Considered in Determining Alimony
The first step the court will take in determining alimony is to review any pre- or post-nuptial agreements that include alimony arrangements. If such an agreement is in place, the court is likely to be bound by that agreement and will award alimony based on those terms. It is unlikely that the agreement can be changed as part of divorce proceedings.
If a pre- or post- nuptial alimony agreement is not in place the courts will consider a number of factors to determine a fair and equitable alimony arrangement for each couple. Judges have very broad discretion to determine how important each factor is depending on the individual circumstances. The factors considered include, but are not limited to:
The length of the marriage
The standard of living that the couple established during the marriage
The ability of and the time necessary for the party claiming alimony to become self-supporting
Income, age, physical and mental health of each spouse
The financial needs of each spouse and the ability of the spouse from whom alimony is sought to meet the needs of the other
The circumstances that led the couple to divorce
Types of Alimony
Once the court has reviewed the circumstances and determined that alimony is appropriate, it will award either rehabilitative or indefinite alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of Alimony. It is awarded for a limited amount of time in cases where one spouse requires additional education or training in order to support him or herself. Typically, rehabilitative alimony is awarded for 3-10 years depending on the circumstances of the couple.
Indefinite alimony is reserved for cases in which one spouse cannot make reasonable progress toward supporting him or herself due to age, illness or disability or when there is a very large and unfair difference in living standards between the two spouses. This alimony is awarded indefinitely (without and end date) but can be modified, extended or changed in the future if circumstances change.
To learn about alimony agreements and awards in Maryland, give us a call at Lebovitz Law. We have years of experience negotiating the best deals for our clients, whether it’s family law or property law. Contact us today.