Is Alimony Affected by Adultery in Maryland Divorce Cases?
Is the award of alimony affected by adultery in Maryland? Unfortunately, this is a common question with an answer that is sometimes surprising. If you’ve recently discovered that your spouse has been cheating on you, you may assume that this information would give you the upper hand in a divorce. However, this is not always the case.
The legal impact that adultery has in a divorce case can vary from state to state. Maryland is what’s considered a “no-fault state.” This means that even if your spouse cheated, he or she is still entitled to the same legal rights as you. However, while adultery in Maryland does not automatically give one spouse an advantage over the other in Court, it can certainly play a role in the overall outcome.
The Impact that Adultery in Maryland has on Alimony
As a matter of law, any sort of “bad behavior” by either of the divorcing parties is one of many factors that a Judge can consider when determining whether to award alimony, and if so – how much and for how long. Obviously, it goes without saying that adultery would fall under the umbrella of bad behavior. So, in this regard, the fact that your spouse was unfaithful would certainly be relevant to whether or not alimony is going to be either awarded to, or paid by, your spouse. However, it’s not the most important factor.
Years ago, adultery in Maryland was punished more severely by the Courts than it is now. This is certainly not to imply that Judges today don’t care that one party has been unfaithful. Since many decisions in a divorce case are up to the Judge’s discretion, the impression of character made by each of the divorcing parties can certainly play a role in how harsh, or lenient, the Judge chooses to be.
However, under the state of our law here in Maryland, there are many other need-based factors that are typically weighted more heavily by Judges when determining what the alimony award will ultimately be, if there is one at all. The purpose of alimony in Maryland is to be temporary and rehabilitative, providing the spouse whose circumstances may change upon divorce due to a substantial loss of household income with the funds necessary to rebuild. For example, has one spouse been a stay-at-home parent for many years, negatively impacting their job marketability? Does her or she require money to complete their education? For more information on the factors that a Judge will consider, please check out this blog post.
The Bottom Line: Adultery in Maryland is a “Gray Area”
So, can a Judge use an alimony award to punish one spouse for adultery in Maryland? Yes, but it’s not the most important factor. The reality is, under today’s law, Judges evaluate the award of alimony more in the context of need and purpose, than in the context of punishment for bad behavior.
For over 30 years, divorce attorney Fred L. Coover has been guiding Howard County families through separation and divorce. If you have been a victim of infidelity in your marriage and want to gain a better understanding of your options, contact Coover Law Firm, LLC today at (410) 995-1000 to schedule an initial consultation in our Columbia, MD office. We look forward to serving you.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.