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Currently Maryland recognizes three (3) distinct types of alimony–temporary; rehabilitative; or indefinite– with intricate factors that the Court must consider before deciding to make an award of alimony or not. If the Court awards alimony, a party can always ask that the award be modified or even ended and if the court finds cause, then the request will be granted. There is no set calculation, formula nor pattern for awarding alimony so it is critical to work with an experienced attorney when alimony is at issue.
Types of Alimony Recognized in Maryland
Pendente Lite (temporary, pending trial) Alimony. This type of alimony can be awarded by the Court from for the period of time from the filing of the complaint asking for alimony until the final hearing on the merits of alimony. Alimony is usually requested as a consequence of divorce but it can be requested even though a divorce is not requested. The purpose of pendente lite alimony is to maintain the status quo of the person making the request for alimony or to ensure the maintenance of the requestor until a final determination on alimony or divorce. In deciding the issue of awarding pendente alimony, the Court must balance whether the requestor needs alimony against whether the obligor has the ability to pay the awarded alimony. The award of pendente lite is separate and apart from whether the Court will make an award of alimony at the conclusion of the merits hearing on the issue of alimony which is typically a divorce for absolute divorce.
Rehabilitative or Indefinite Alimony. When the issue of alimony is finally decided, the Court can make a decision to award either of two (2) types of alimony: (1) rehabilitative alimony; or (2) indefinite alimony.
Rehabilitative Alimony. Just as the name implies, “rehabilitative alimony” is intended to be short-term and designed to assist with a spouse becoming self-sufficient after the break up of a marriage. So it can be used to help a spouse continue school (stopped to care for the family) or to get/continue more training to become more competitive in an industry, to become more marketable, or to acquire skills to secure employment.
Indefinite Alimony. Indefinite alimony is awarded for a much longer period of time and generally in instances when one of the parties is unable to work due to their age, or a physical or mental illness or infirmity. There has been a move away from awarding indefinite alimony but it may be awarded when there is no possibility that a spouse can be or become self-sufficient. Indefinite alimony may also be awarded even if a spouse becomes self-sufficient but the difference between the standard of living and that of the other spouse is so disparate that it shocks the conscience.
Before making an award of alimony the court must consider the factors set out in Section 8-205 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. A few are set out below, including such important factors as duration of the marriage and the age of the parties:
- length of marriage
- age of each party
- financial circumstances of the parties during the marriage; now; and in the future
- physical and mental health of the parties
- the circumstances that contributed to the break up of the parties and the divorce
Then court has to consider all of the factors for a fair and equitable award of marital property, which include but are not limited to:
- age of each party
- ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
- time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment
- standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
- duration of the marriage
- monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the well-being of the family
- circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties
- physical and mental condition of each party
- ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his/her needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony
- any agreement between the parties
- financial needs and financial resources of each party, including: all income and assets, including all property that does not produce income
- any monetary award concerning property and award of possession and use of the family property
- nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party
- right of each party to receive retirement benefits
- whether the award would cause the spouse paying alimony (even a spouse in a qualifying care facility) to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur
- Any other factors with a bearing on the alimony award
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