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How Does Maryland Address the Award of Alimony Support Payments?


When a married couple decides to pursue a divorce or annulment, either spouse can request alimony support payments from the state courts. These support payments are designed to help address financial inequalities between the spouses. Alimony is common in situations where one spouse stayed at home to take care of children, thus sacrificing career opportunity and earning power. In that type of situation, the Maryland courts may award alimony to help either spouse regain self-sufficiency.

When Can the Maryland Courts Award Alimony?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-101 underlines the conditions for which a state court may award alimony support payments. The Maryland courts may grant an award of alimony to either of the divorcing spouses, regardless of the reason for their divorce.

In most situations, the Maryland courts grant an award of alimony when the former spouses:

  • Achieve annulment of their marriage;
  • Enter into a limited divorce; or
  • Finalize an absolute divorce.

That being said, it is possible for the former spouses to enter into a marital separation agreement that addresses the amount and length of alimony. If the former spouses reach a reasonable agreement concerning alimony, then the courts must uphold those terms.

Does an Award of Alimony Have a Time Limit in Maryland?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-108 provides the overarching limitation on alimony support payments under state law. Unless the former spouses have an agreement otherwise, alimony ends when:

  • Either of the former spouses dies;
  • The recipient of alimony remarries; or
  • The courts determine that support must end to avoid an unfair outcome.

In most cases, there is always a time limit on alimony support payments. Though in extraordinary circumstances, the Maryland courts may award alimony for an indefinite period of time. However, unless there is a unconscionable financial imbalance between the former, it is unlikely that the state courts will award alimony for an indefinite period of time.

Can the Maryland Courts Modify an Award of Alimony?

In certain situations, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-107 allows the courts to modify the amount or extend the length of alimony. In order to modify or extend an award of alimony, the Maryland courts must act in accordance with Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-103.

In terms of modifying the amount of alimony, the Maryland courts have the discretion to do so in the interest of justice or fairness. Additionally, the Maryland courts may extend the length of alimony support payments. This ability is only available if:

  • The recipient of alimony support requests an extension during the initial timeframe of support payments; and
  • An unfair or harsh outcome would arise without an extension of alimony.

Let Us Help You Today

If you need legal help with alimony support payments in Maryland, it can be decidedly useful to consult with a reliable family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including alimony and other support payments. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.



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