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Alimony

Maryland Alimony

Alimony in Maryland

When faced with divorce, you are likely concerned about your financial future, including whether you can receive alimony or may be asked to pay it. At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, we will help you understand how Maryland alimony law applies to your unique circumstances, and we will advocate tirelessly for your financial interests during and after divorce.

When one household becomes two, whether as a result of separation or divorce, one spouse may need, or claim to need, some financial assistance from the other to help cover living expenses. Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, can provide that help if appropriate to the situation.

Alimony is a payment or payments from one spouse or ex-spouse for the benefit of the other, usually (but not necessarily) on a monthly basis, while the couple is living separate and apart.

Maryland Alimony During and After Divorce

In Maryland, alimony typically arises at one of two stages of a divorce proceeding: either “pendente lite,” which means during the litigation, for the period of time before a divorce is granted; or alimony awarded at the time of divorce, for the period of time after the divorce. Different goals are served by alimony at these two stages, and therefore, different rules apply.

Alimony pendente lite is financial support necessary to maintain the status quo during the divorce process. When awarded by a court, alimony is governed by consideration of the recipient’s needs and the payor’s ability to pay. Having a financial need for alimony does not mean the other spouse has the financial ability to pay alimony. Conversely, just because a party has the financial ability to pay alimony does not mean that the other spouse has a financial need to receive alimony. The determination of financial need and the ability to pay are complex decisions to be made by the court. Many of the factors germane to alimony considered by a court at a final divorce proceeding are irrelevant in the decision of whether and how much a court should award as pendente lite alimony.

Alimony awarded at the time of a divorce, by contrast, requires the consideration of many factors set forth by statute, which go well beyond simple need and ability to pay. In Maryland, there are two types of alimony that can be awarded upon the entry of a divorce: “rehabilitative” alimony, for a defined period of time, or “indefinite” alimony, which continues until the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient, or until subsequently modified by the court or by agreement.

However, a Maryland court may award indefinite alimony in one of two situations: if the court determines that one party is unlikely to become self-supporting due to age, illness, infirmity or disability, or if the court determines that the parties’ standards of living after divorce will be unconscionably disparate even after the alimony recipient has made as much progress as can be expected toward becoming self-supporting. Nevertheless, an award of indefinite alimony does not mean that alimony will be permanent. Indefinite alimony awards remain subject to future modification if the financial circumstances of either party should warrant a change.

It is important to note that alimony determinations are quite fact specific, and that similar situations may be resolved very differently by the court. That is why it is essential that a party seeking alimony or defending against an alimony claim utilize experienced counsel.

How Alimony is Determined and Awarded

A court may award alimony in response to a specific request made as part of a Complaint for annulment or divorce, or in response to a Complaint just for alimony. The order awarding alimony may be based on a written agreement between the spouses, or on the findings of the court.

Maryland has no formula for determining the amount or duration of alimony payments. This makes alimony awards by the court uncertain and unpredictable. As with many other domestic relations issues, the parties are free to reach an agreement regarding the amount, duration, and frequency of alimony payments, as well as whether those payments will be modifiable or non-modifiable in the future. On the other hand, if a court orders alimony, that award will always be terminable or modifiable.

While no particular formula exists to calculate alimony awards, when considering a request for alimony, Maryland courts must consider “all factors necessary for a fair and equitable award.” These factors include:

  • The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
  • The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment
  • The standard of living that the parties established during their marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties
  • The ages of each party
  • The physical and mental condition of each party
  • 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
  • Any agreement between the parties
  • The financial needs and resources of each party, including (i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income; (ii) any award regarding the equitable distribution of marital property or pertaining to the former marital home; (iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and (iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits
  • Whether the award of alimony would affect the eligibility of an institutionalized spouse for medical assistance

Note that even though a fault-based ground for divorce is not required to receive a court award of alimony, the cause of the estrangement of the parties can impact whether and how much alimony a court awards.

How We Help with Your Alimony Issues

Your financial situation during and after your divorce will have a significant impact upon your well-being for many years to come. Having the financial resources you need sets the tone for your future. At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, we are laser-focused on achieving your financial objectives. With decades of experience in Maryland family law, including complex alimony cases, we approach these matters with tactical precision and creative insight to protect your interests.

We are experienced in seeking alimony awards in court, customizing alimony settlements to each client’s unique circumstances, modifying and terminating alimony awards, as well as collecting and enforcing alimony. Our experience includes working with clients, whether recipients or payors, to protect their financial interests. We also have the experience and knowledge needed to help with the technical and complex nature of alimony in the international divorce context.

We invite you to contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield to schedule a consultation to discuss your individual situation and learn how we can help you with your alimony concerns.

Testimonials

“Great lawyer to work with. Excellent communicator and listener. Courtroom skills exceptional. Would highly recommend for any family law situation.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Lawyers.com Review
“I highly recommend Geoff. He and his all-star team assisted me through a difficult and contentious divorce and child custody case. Geoff’s knowledge and personal relationships really assisted in the positive outcome of my case. Geoff was efficient throughout the…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Avvo Review
“Took a personalized approach to my complex divorce and was available to achieve an outcome beyond my highest expectations.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Lawyers.com Review
“Strategic and Pragmatic. Geoff has seen plenty of situations and how they play out. Geoff has an expert understanding of the process. Geoff does a great job of communication and letting you know what’s going on by including you in…”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Avvo Review
“One of the most dedicated, fair, competent, patient attorneys I have had the pleasure of dealing with. He has helped myself and many others through some difficult times. He is a very good listener and can direct you in the…”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Lawyers.com Review
“Excellent at simultaneously executing specific tactical aspects of the case while maintaining overall macro view.”
– Family Law Attorney
“I have worked with Geoffrey S. Platnick as an expert witness in several cases and find him to be an excellent attorney with a real interest in his clients.”
– Child Custody Expert , ★★★★★ Lawyers.com Review
“Absolutely amazing during a very difficult time.”
– Divorce Client , ★★★★★ Lawyers.com Review
“He is a brilliant lawyer, a fantastic strategist, willing to resolve cases through mediation but kick butt in court if that is required, and in the final analysis, effective in achieving his clients’ goals. One of the really great ones.…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Martindale-Hubbell Review
“A very empathetic and diligent person and attorney. His tact in suggesting acceptable solutions to emotionally charged situations and sensitivity to child issues that can easily get neglected in the egoic fracases in such cases is truly exemplary. I am,…”
– Family Law Client , ★★★★★ Martindale-Hubbell Review

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