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Alimony in Maryland FAQ

on Dec 19, 2017 in Divorce

Alimony in Maryland is the payment by one spouse to the other.  In the state of Maryland, the purpose of alimony is to allow the receiving spouse to become self-supporting.  An alimony award is typically for a limited time allowing the spouse to attain self-sufficiency.  Specifically, Maryland statutes, Family Law Article Title 11 governs alimony in the state of Maryland.

What are the Different Types of Alimony in the State of Maryland?

The state of Maryland has three different types of alimony:

Pendente Lite alimony.  Courts order this alimony temporarily in the early stage of a divorce proceeding.  Further, it is only available during the pendency of the divorce.  Court’s consider the reasonable financial needs of the receiving party and the other party’s ability to pay.  The purpose is to maintain the status quo of the parties during the divorce proceedings.

Rehabilitative alimony.  This alimony awarded for a set period of time.  Specifically, the purpose is to provide the receiving spouse time and resources to become self-supporting.

Indefinite alimony.  This alimony award is indefinite, meaning there is no limit to the duration.  Courts award indefinite alimony during a long-term marriage where only one party has worked outside the house and the other party is unable to become self-supporting.  This can be due to age or infirmity.  Indefinite alimony is also ordered where otherwise the lifestyles of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.

When May a Spouse Receive Alimony in Maryland?

In the state of Maryland, either party is awarded alimony.  Maryland Family Law Article 11 section 1.  In some cases,  alimony is awarded prior to the final divorce or in the Final Judgment of Divorce.  Of course, in cases of agreement by the parties, the agreements are binding.  Agreements between the parties reduced to final judgment are binding on courts and not modified.  

What Impact Do Grounds for Divorce Have on Alimony in Maryland?

Grounds for divorce do not automatically prevent a spouse from receiving alimony in the state of Maryland.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 3.

Factors Considered by the Court?

The court determines award and duration of alimony.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 106(a).  Maryland courts consider the following factors:

(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;

(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 award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii)   the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv)   the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12)   whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health – General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 106(b).

Other Factors?

Further, courts award indefinite alimony when the receiving spouse has a disability, illness, other infirmity or age preventing him or her from becoming self sufficient.  In addition, courts award indefinite alimony when the respective standards of living will be “unconsciously disparate” after the rehabilitative process.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 106(c).

May A Court Modify an Award of Alimony in Maryland?

Unless the parties previously agreed in a final judgment that a court may not modify alimony or does not have jurisdiction to modify alimony, a court may modify duration and amount of alimony when a recipient spouse petitions the court and a “harsh and inequitable result” occurs without an alimony extension.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 107(a) and (b).

Terminating Alimony in Maryland?

Without other agreement by the parties, alimony terminates upon the death of either party, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or a court determination that continuing alimony results in “a harsh and inequitable result.”  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 108.

Who Pays Attorney Fees and Other Costs?

Courts may order either party pay reasonable and necessary expenses in a family law proceeding.  Courts consider the financial resource and needs of the party and the justification for bringing a proceeding.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 110.  The court orders an amount paid directly to the lawyer.

Who Pays for Medical Insurance?

Courts may order one of the parties to pay the costs of group medical insurance for the receiving party.  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 111.

Does Mental Illness Impact Alimony in Maryland?

Maryland statute provides when two or more psychiatrists find that one of the parties is “incurably insane with no hope of recovery,” absent agreement of the parties, the court orders the payment of “alimony or support for the benefit of the insane party.”  Maryland Family Law Article 11, section 112.  This payment is a lump sum based on life expectancy, including funeral expenses or a bond to the state for payment of “care and support of the insane party” including funeral expenses.  Id.

What are the Tax Consequences of Alimony in Maryland?

The tax consequences of alimony are important.  In general, as of December of 2017, alimony is taxable income for the recipient.  Also, alimony is deductible from the income of the payor for tax purposes.  Maryland Tax Law Article 9, section 104.

Options for Further Enforcement

Finally, you should know courts enforce alimony orders by contempt proceedings.  Maryland Rules govern contempt proceedings.  In the appropriate circumstances, when a party fails to comply with a court order requiring or prohibiting action, courts hold the person in contempt,  Maryland Rules Article 2, section 648.

Do You Qualify for Alimony in Maryland?

If you are wondering whether you qualify for alimony, or if you believe your spouse wants alimony, you need a qualified attorney on your side.  At Fait & DiLima, we exclusively practice in the area of family law.  We routinely address the issue of alimony in our work.  Let us put our experience to work for you.