Is There a Time Limit on Alimony Support in Maryland?
Alimony is a type of spousal support payment that attempts to balance inequalities between former spouses who complete a divorce. Either spouse can apply for alimony support payments. However, the Maryland courts must evaluate multiple factors before awarding alimony to either party to a divorce proceeding.
What are the Factors for Awarding Alimony?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-106 outlines the required factors to consider before awarding alimony. If either party to a divorce requests alimony, the Maryland courts consider numerous factors, including but not limited to the:
- Capacity and time required for each spouse to gain self-sufficiency;
- Income and assets of each spouse, including property;
- Time the spouses were married to each other;
- Financial and living standards during the marriage;
- Contributions each spouse made to the well-being of their family;
- Reasons why the spouses are pursuing a divorce;
- Age, health, and mental well-being of each spouse; and
- Ability to pay alimony, if the state courts decide to make an award.
Ultimately, the Maryland courts must ensure that any alimony award is fair and equitable to both parties. Otherwise, alimony support payments are not appropriate in that situation.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
Section 11-106 also details the duration of alimony support payments. Generally speaking, alimony support payments have a defined end point. That provides the former spouse receiving alimony with an opportunity to gain reasonable self-sufficiency.
In very limited situations, the Maryland courts may award alimony for an indefinite period of time. This extraordinary power is only available if the court determines that:
- The former spouse receiving alimony is unable to become self-sufficient, due to age, health, disability, or similar factors; or
- There is a substantial gap between the financial or living standards of the former spouses.
Additionally, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-108 provides additional considerations for the termination of alimony. Even if there is time remaining on the duration of alimony, these support payments terminate if:
- Either of the former spouses dies;
- The former spouse receiving alimony gets remarried; or
- The Maryland courts find that terminating alimony is required to prevent an unfair outcome.
Is it Possible to Extend Alimony?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-107 does allow the state courts to extend the duration of alimony under two conditions. These conditions are not always easy to meet. First, the former spouse receiving alimony must request an extension before their support payments expire. Second, the Maryland courts must determine that extending the duration of alimony is required to prevent an unfair outcome.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with alimony or other features of Maryland family law, it can be extremely beneficial to consult with a well-respected family law attorney. The Bel Air alimony attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including alimony. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.