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How Does Maryland Address Alimony In Cases Of Mental Disability?


The Maryland courts usually award alimony to address inequities between spouses at the time of separation. In many cases, one spouse sacrificed work experience and earning potential for the benefit of the family. Alimony and similar support payments can help these spouses become self-sufficient and secure gainful employment. But there are special rules in place for alimony concerning individuals with mental disability.

What are the General Conditions of Alimony?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-101 lays out the rules for alimony under state law. This section enables the Maryland courts to award alimony pursuant to:

A bill of complaint for alimony;

  • As part of a court order granting a limited divorce;
  • As part of a court order granting an absolute divorce; or
  • As part of a court order granting an annulment.

There is an exception under Section 11-101. If the spouses enter into a valid contract or agreement that relates to alimony, the Maryland courts are usually bound by those terms. If the spouses reach a mutual agreement to waive alimony, for example, the Maryland courts must respect that arrangement.

Do Mentally Disabled People Have to Pay Alimony?

In most cases, Section 11-101 authorizes the Maryland courts to award alimony to either spouse. But there are special considerations in place for mentally disabled spouses who are institutionalized.

Section 11-101 prohibits the Maryland courts from awarding alimony against a mentally disabled person if:

  • The disabled person is a resident in mental institution; and
  • The other spouse is requesting a divorce based on residence in a mental institution.

Effectively, Section 11-101 prevents an award of alimony in these cases to avoid an inequitable or unfair result. If a person is a resident in a mental institution, it indicates a lack of self-sufficiency and stability. It is generally unfair to require such a person to pay alimony to their former spouse.

Can Mentally Disabled People Receive Alimony?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-112 breaks down the rules for awarding alimony to a mentally disabled person. But this section only applies if:

  • There is testimony from at least two physicians with competencies in psychiatry;
  • The testimony indicates that the mental disability is permanent and incurable, without any hope of recovery.

Assuming satisfaction of the requirements above, the Maryland courts may require a former spouse to:

  • Pay continuing alimony or support to the mentally disabled person;
  • Pay a lump sum to the mentally disabled person, based on life expectancy and financial condition; or
  • Provide a bond to account for the mentally disabled person’s lifetime care and support as well as reasonable funeral expenses.

In this context, the Maryland courts may award alimony to a mentally disabled person, without regard to any contract or agreement. Even though most Maryland spouses can waive or restrict alimony based on such an agreement, it does not necessarily apply in cases of mental disability.

Do You Need Legal Help?

For help from a skilled Bel Air alimony lawyer, reach out to Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. We are eager to assist you today.

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