What is the Maryland Family Law Approach to Alimony?
Under Maryland family law, alimony is a type of spousal support that is available during or after divorce. During the process of ending their marriage, either spouse can request alimony support payments from the other spouse.
These support payments are designed to help either spouse get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. The Maryland courts evaluate such requests on the basis of numerous factors, ensuring that any alimony award is fair and equitable to both parties.
Award of Alimony
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-101 details when it is possible to award alimony. A Maryland court may award alimony pursuant to a/an:
- Complaint for alimony;
- Limited divorce; or
- Absolute divorce.
Furthermore, the Maryland courts may award alimony to either party regardless of if the party requesting alimony also contributed to the grounds for divorce. If it is fair and equitable to award alimony to either spouse, it is likely that the Maryland courts will do so.
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-106 provides an extensive list of factors for required consideration in any alimony award. The factors the Maryland courts must consider include but are not limited to:
- Capability of either spouse to reach self-sufficiency;
- Time and effort required for either spouse to reach self-sufficiency and secure employment;
- Standard of living the spouses enjoyed during marriage;
- Length of time the spouses were married;
- Monetary and other contributions each spouse made for the marriage and family;
- Age, illness, infirmity, or disability of either spouse; and
- Any existing agreement between the spouses that relates to alimony.
Amount & Duration
Section 11-106 also establishes the guidelines for determining the amount and duration of alimony. Under this section, the Maryland courts must evaluate the factors above and then determine an appropriate amount and duration for alimony. In awarding alimony to either party, the court must ensure that such an approach is fair and reasonable.
As the purpose of alimony is to help a spouse regain self-sufficiency, these support payments typically have an endpoint. But Section 11-106 authorizes the Maryland courts to award alimony for an indefinite period of time if:
- Either party is incapable of becoming self-sufficient due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability; or
- There is an extreme difference in the living standards of the parties that warrants continued support payments.
Modification or Extension
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 11-107 outlines a way to modify or extend an award of alimony. Under this section, the Maryland courts may:
- Extend the Duration of Alimony — If an unfair or harsh outcome would result without an extension; or
- Modify the Amount of Alimony — If justice or other circumstances indicate that doing so would be fair and reasonable.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with alimony in Maryland, it can be highly constructive to contact an experienced family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce 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.