Award of Reasonable & Necessary Expenses in Maryland Alimony Proceedings
Alimony is a type of spousal support payment available during and after divorce proceedings in Maryland. Generally speaking, alimony exists to address financial imbalances between formerly married spouses.
But there is also a temporary form of alimony available during the divorce process. Referred to as alimony pendente lite, this support payment can help either spouse with expenses during divorce proceedings. But as soon as the divorce is complete, alimony pendente lite expires. If either spouse wishes to continue support payments, they must request standard alimony payments.
Throughout the legal process of alimony proceedings, the Maryland courts also have the discretion to award reasonable and necessary expenses to either party. This is a form of protection and deterrence, ensuring that former spouses engage in alimony proceedings in good faith.
Definition of Reasonable and Necessary Expenses
Maryland Family Law Code Section 11-110 provides a specific definition of the term reasonable and necessary expenses. This term includes:
- Court Costs — The court may award either party the costs of prosecuting or defending the alimony proceeding in question;
- Attorney’s Fees — The court may award either party the attorney’s fees needed to prosecute or defend the alimony proceeding in question, payable directly to the attorney; and
- Other Expenses — The court may award either party other expenses related to the alimony proceeding.
Definition of Alimony Proceedings
Section 11-110 also provides a specific definition for the term proceeding. This term includes legal hearings and cases related to:
- Alimony pendente lite;
- Modification of an alimony award; and
- Enforcement of an alimony award.
Award of Reasonable and Necessary Expenses
In any alimony proceeding, a Maryland court has the authority to award reasonable and necessary expenses to either party. Though as discussed previously, the reasonable and necessary expenses must be related to the alimony proceeding in question.
Before a Maryland court may award necessary and reasonable expenses, there is a threshold consideration. The court must consider:
- The financial status of both parties; and
- The reason why each party entered into alimony proceedings.
Stated otherwise, the court must determine whether both parties had a valid reason to enter into alimony proceedings. If either party enters into such a proceeding bad faith — thus lacking substantial justification — then the court may award necessary and reasonable expenses to the other party. But the court must also consider the financial status of each party before making such an award.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have legal questions about alimony in Maryland, it can be decidedly helpful to consult with a sensible family law attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Maryland are prepared to assist you with your case.