Spousal support – often called alimony – is periodic payments from one spouse to the other. In some states, spousal support can last a lifetime. That is rare in Maryland.
However, pursuant to Md. Fam. Law Code, § 11-106(c), indefinite alimony can be ordered by a Maryland divorce court if the court makes one of the following findings:
(1) If, due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or
(2) If, 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
When considering whether to order spousal support, how much to order, and for how long, Maryland divorce courts are instructed to evaluate twelve factual matters including:
(1) The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting – the less self-supporting, the more likely alimony will be ordered
(2) The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment – this factor is relevant to the length of time alimony must be paid
(3) The standard of living that the parties established during their marriage
(4) The duration of the marriage – long-term alimony is more common for longer marriages
(5) The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family – if the spouses made equal income contributions to the marriage, then alimony is less likely
(6) The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties – particularly in “for cause” divorces involving physical and/or emotional abuse, alimony is a method of providing “justice” for the aggrieved spouse
(7) The age of each party – the older the spouses, the less likely they can start a career and become self-sufficient which can lead to an order of more long-term spousal support
(8) The physical and mental condition of each party – again, goes to the issue of one spouse being able to become self-sufficient and obtain the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage
(9) The ability of the alimony “payor” to meet his or her own 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 all income and assets, including property that does not produce income, retirement assets, various financial obligations of each party, etc.
(12) Whether the award would cause an alimony “payor,” who is currently not in a nursing or similar facility, to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur
See Md. Fam. Law Code, § 11-106(b).
As can be seen, Maryland divorce courts must consider a very wide variety of factors in making determinations about spousal support awards. For that reason, it is impossible to predict whether alimony will be ordered, how much will be ordered and for how long. For obvious reasons, alimony is a very contentious issue for spouses seeking divorce. Consequently, it is essential to seek the legal advice and counsel of experienced Maryland divorce attorneys if you are considering a divorce or in the process of obtaining a divorce. Do-it-yourself divorces are not recommended.
Maryland and D.C. Family Law Attorneys
For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. divorce and family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280.