Alimony in Maryland: How is it Calculated?
Alimony in Maryland: Understanding the Law Today
In the State of Maryland, as with most states, alimony was traditionally awarded to the wife in a divorce proceeding. Often it was expected that she would be unable to work or have limited means to do so. As a result, alimony in Maryland was most often a substantial amount of money per month and it would be expected to last for years, if not a lifetime. Alimony in Maryland is quite a different matter today.
These days, alimony is not a given in the state of Maryland. The award of alimony depends on a number of factors that judges weigh in a given divorce proceeding. Judges consider a combination of need and circumstance, described by a series of components outlined in the law.
Regardless, there are certain issues regarding alimony in Maryland that everyone facing a divorce should know and understand.
Award and Ending of Alimony in Maryland
- Alimony in Maryland must be set before a divorce is finalized. This requirement exists because the right to alimony is viewed as part of the marriage. Therefore, the right to alimony ends when the marriage ends, there must be an order in place before the marriage is over.
- Alimony in Maryland almost always terminates upon remarriage of the receiving party. Therefore, getting an assessment and planning for that change in income, especially where child support is also at issue, can be a good idea.
- The amount of alimony is not a given. There are many factors the courts consider when deciding length and amount of alimony under Maryland divorce law.
Alimony in Maryland Is About Need, and It Is Separate From Child Support
- Either spouse in the marriage can receive alimony in Maryland. It depends on who has a need and who is in a position to provide, along with other issues in the marriage. Historically, women did not make as much as men in most cases, and men were presumed to have the ability to work more easily. That is no longer true today, and the law has adapted over time to reflect this change.
- Alimony is separate from child support. Child support is tied to the age and needs of the child, while alimony is about the needs of the spouse.
- In nearly all cases, alimony in Maryland is presumed to be temporary and rehabilitative. The idea is that the spouse whose circumstances may change upon divorce due to loss of substantial income into the household have funds to rebuild. Often there is a tie to the length of marriage and how difficult it is believed that it will be for the spouse in need to get a job.
- Since alimony is tied to the marriage, the state of the marriage upon divorce can impact the amount of alimony in Maryland. If, for example, one spouse cheats on the other, the judge can take this into consideration when deciding the amount of alimony
- The disparity between the parties in each’s ability to earn income, education, other financial resources and need also may be considered when deciding alimony in Maryland. Maryland Statute, Section 11-106
While Most Alimony in Maryland Is Rehabilitative and Temporary, Sometimes Alimony Can Be Indefinite
- Most of the time the Court looks at the receiving spouse as someone who will eventually be able to work and live independent of alimony. Therefore, alimony often has a date to either end absolutely, or revisit the issue and determine when it should end. It is rare for alimony to be awarded with an indefinite timeframe.
- Even so, in some cases, one spouse is not only financially dependent, but is thought to be unable or unlikely to be able to work in the future. This may be due to disability, illness, extremely advanced age, or other factor that that court thinks will have a permanent impact. The court takes the circumstances of the spouse in need and if the need is viewed as unending, the award for alimony can be indefinite.
In Addition to Statues in Maryland State Law, Judges Can Consider Other National Standards When Calculating Alimony
- Several other factors are often considered by judges, as a result of standards recommended by a national organization, the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). The AAML suggested a formula to calculate alimony when there is a large gap between incomes of the spouses, where it will be difficult for the spouses to reach equal footing economically, or other applicable reasons. Maryland Courts can consider this standard as well when deciding alimony, as long as it is consistent with Maryland law.
- Since the Court has so much discretion, good advice about what level of alimony is appropriate in your specific case is very important. The more clearly you present your situation to the court, the easier it will be for the court to work with you and your needs, whether you would be giving or receiving alimony.
No Matter the Basis For Divorce, Parties Should Plan To Negotiate in Order to Protect Their Interests
As you can plainly see from just some of the key issues in alimony awards, judges have a lot of discretionary room to determine amount and duration for an alimony award. All of the details of alimony in Maryland can and should be negotiated. Both spouses should have representation regarding their interests. While the Court can order alimony, if the parties reach a reasonable agreement among themselves, the court is likely to agree. Therefore, preparing to negotiate with your spouse to come to an equitable solution can often lead to a better result for both parties, in less time and with less legal expense.
Fred L. Coover, Esq. of Coover Law Firm, LLC is a Howard County MD Divorce Attorney with over 30 years experience dealing in divorce and family law matters in Maryland, including alimony disputes. Please contact Coover Law Firm, LLC at (410) 995-1100 and set up a free consultation at our office located in Columbia MD to discuss the specifics of your case. 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.