Alimony in Maryland
What is alimony?
In Maryland, alimony is a periodic payment for support and maintenance designed to enable a dependent spouse to become self-supporting.
Is there a difference between pendente lite alimony and merits alimony?
Yes, pendente lite alimony and merits alimony are different. Pendente lite alimony is an award to a spouse pending a final divorce judgment. When determining whether or not to award pendente lite alimony, the Court looks to the needs of the party requesting alimony and the ability of the other party to pay. When determining alimony at a merits hearing, the Court is required to consider statutory factors that are not considered at a pendente lite hearing.
Can alimony be awarded from the date of separation?
No, the Court only has the authority to award alimony retroactive to the date of filing a pleading requesting alimony.
When does alimony terminate?
Court ordered alimony terminates upon a date certain, death of either spouse, or remarriage of the recipient.
How do I know if alimony terminates upon a date certain?
There are two types of alimony, rehabilitative alimony and indefinite alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a fixed period of time at which time alimony terminates unless a modification is granted. Your Court Order or Agreement may specify when alimony terminates. If no termination event/date is specified you must return to court to have alimony terminated.
When is indefinite alimony awarded?
The court can award indefinite alimony if it finds that due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate. (MD Code Ann., Family Law §11-106(c)).
Does the Court favor one type of alimony over another?
The Maryland Court tends to favor rehabilitative alimony; however, the facts and circumstances of each family law case need to be evaluated when making an alimony determination.
What statutory factors must the Court consider?
When considering an alimony award, the court shall consider all of the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award including but not limited to the following (MD Code Ann., Family Law §11-106(b):
(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;
(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
(4) the duration of the marriage;
(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
(7) the age of each party;
(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;
(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party's needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;
(10) any agreement between the parties; and
(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:
(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;
(ii) any monetary award or use and possession award
(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and
(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits;
(12) whether the award could cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in the statue relating to health care facilities (§ 19-301 of the Health-General Article) and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.
How is alimony treated for tax purposes?
Alimony is taxable income to the recipient and deductible from the income of the payor, unless otherwise specified. A person paying or receiving alimony should check with their tax advisor for tax advice.
Can the duration for which alimony is to be paid be extended?
Yes, pursuant to MD Code Ann., Family Law §11-107(a), the court may extend the period for which alimony is awarded if circumstances arise during the period that would lead to a harsh and inequitable result without an extension and the recipient petitions for an extension during the period.
Can the amount of alimony be modified?
Yes, MD Code Ann., Family Law §11-107(b) allows the court, upon petition of either party, to modify the amount of alimony as circumstances and justice require; however, there are circumstances when the court cannot modify alimony.
Are there any circumstances when alimony cannot be modified or extended?
Yes. If the parties enter into an agreement where they agree that alimony shall not be modified then the court does not have the ability to modify the amount or extend the duration of alimony.
Is the amount of alimony awarded considered in the calculation of child support?
Yes. The Maryland Child Support Guidelines take into consideration alimony awarded and/or being paid. Alimony is considered income to the recipient.
Are there Maryland Guidelines for determining alimony similar to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines?
No. There are currently no Maryland alimony guidelines that the court is required to rely upon when determining alimony. However, there are some formulas that attorneys and their clients may utilize as a starting point for analyzing alimony. Because there are so many variables that go into determining whether or not alimony will be awarded it is important to consult with an attorney regarding the specific facts of your divorce case.