Whether you were the primary wage earner in your marriage, or you never worked outside of the home, one of the biggest worries of any individual contemplating divorce is how you will meet your expenses under the new financial reality of living in two separate households.
Under Maryland law, the court takes into account several factors when determining whether to award alimony, the amount of alimony to award, and the period of time to award 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, Maryland courts look to certain factors to ascertain a fair and equitable alimony award, including:
- 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.
Maryland’s Circuit Court judges are vested with a substantial amount of discretion in determining how to weigh the factors above in each case. This in turn means that an alimony claim can be one of the most uncertain issues in any divorce. While so-called “alimony calculators” do exist, they are only a guide that judges are permitted, but are not required, to consider in determining an appropriate alimony award. Our office has extensive experience in resolving alimony disputes both in and out of the courtroom, and are prepared to assist you with navigating the uncertainties and complexities involved in pursuing or defending an alimony claim.