Under Maryland law, the court takes into account several factors when determining whether to award alimony, the amount of alimony, and the period for an award of alimony. 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, even if the party seeking alimony makes as much progress towards becoming self-supporting, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate, then the court may award alimony for an indefinite period of time. The case law in Maryland interpreting this area of law is varied; the outcome depends on the particular circumstances of your case.
In determining alimony, the courts look to certain factors to ascertain a fair and equitable award including, without limitation:
- 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 nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family unit;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
- The age 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 financial resources of each party, including (i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income; (ii) any monetary award or ownership interest in property, or possession and use of property award; (iii) the nature and amount of financial obligations of each party; and (iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and
- Whether the award would cause a spouse that resides in 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 sooner than would otherwise occur.
On May 11, 2010, in Boemio v. Boemio, the Court of Appeals of Maryland upheld the trial judge’s consideration of the “alimony guidelines,” in addition to the factors identified above. Specifically, the statute allows consideration of “all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including, but not limited to, the dozen factors described above.” The Court of Appeals also mentioned that “given the difficulty of translating predominantly qualitative factors into a numerical award, courts may consult guidelines developed by a reliable and neutral source that do not conflict with or undermine any of the considerations expressed in the statute when determining the amount and duration of alimony.” This is an emerging area of the law, and, again, requires analysis by your lawyer. We continue to monitor the Maryland courts’ approach to alimony to best advise our clients.
If spousal support is claimed by a spouse and either spouse indicates that no support agreement exists, then each spouse shall file a current financial statement substantially in the form set forth in Rule 9-203 (a).