What is the Determination Process for Alimony in Maryland?
Under Maryland family law, the subject of alimony often arises during the process of completing a divorce. These support payments can help a former spouse regain self-sufficiency or address financial imbalances between the former couple. Certain couples reach an understanding and execute an agreement that addresses alimony. Though in many cases, the Maryland state courts determine whether to award alimony.
Can a Maryland Couple Determine How to Address Alimony?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-101 permits a married couple to decide on their own how to address alimony. If the couple executed a prenuptial agreement, the Maryland courts must respect any terms that address the topic of alimony. In the same vein, a couple can also execute a post-nuptial agreement to deal with alimony.
Alternatively, certain couples address alimony in a settlement agreement that will effectively end their marriage. Outside of extremely limited exceptions, the state courts generally honor any agreement between the spouses concerning alimony.
What Happens if the Courts Determine Issues Related to Alimony?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-106 details how the state courts determine the amount and duration of alimony. The Maryland courts must ensure that any award of alimony is fair and equitable by considering specific factors, including but not limited to:
- Ability of the spouse requesting alimony to become totally or partially self-sufficient;
- Time needed for the spouse requesting alimony to gain proper education or training to secure a suitable job;
- Standard of living the spouses enjoyed during their marriage;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Contributions each spouse made toward the marriage, both monetary and non-monetary;
- Reasons for which the spouses are pursuing a divorce;
- Age, physical condition, and mental state of each spouse;
- Financial needs and resources of each spouse; and
- Contractual agreement between the spouses that relates to alimony.
Generally speaking, the Maryland courts will only award alimony for as long as needed for a spouse to become self-sufficient. But in rare cases, the state courts may award alimony for an indefinite period of time. An indefinite period of alimony is traditionally reserved for the situations below:
- One spouse cannot reasonably attain self-sufficiency, due to age, disability, illness, or infirmity; or
- There is an unconscionable difference between the standards of living of each spouse.
Is it Possible to Change an Alimony Determination?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-107 establishes a series of guidelines for extending or modifying an award of alimony. The person receiving support payments may petition the state courts for an alimony extension. If refusing such an extension would avoid a harsh and unfair result, the state courts will likely grant the request.
In terms of modifying the amount of alimony support payments, either party may petition the state courts. The state courts have discretion to increase or decrease alimony, as circumstances and justice require.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with alimony, contact the Bel Air family alimony attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. Reach out to us today for more information.