Absent extraordinary conditions, alimony in Maryland is rehabilitative. This means that the purpose of alimony is to give the party receiving it time to become self-supporting. Only where it is clear to the court that the party receiving alimony will never be able to become self-supporting, is lifelong alimony proper. The majority of cases that involve alimony end up with alimony for a very limited length.
The goal of alimony is economic independence. Its purpose is “to ease the transition for the parties from the joint married state to their new status as single people living apart and independently.” In other words, the purpose of alimony is “to provide an opportunity for the recipient spouse to become self-supporting.”
The considerations for alimony are set forth in statute in Maryland. These considerations are:
- The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
- The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;
- The standard of living the parties established during their marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of family;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
- The age of each party;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;
- Any agreement between the parties;
- The financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:
- All income and assets, including property that does not produce income;
- Any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of the family law article;
- The nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and
- The right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and
- Whether the award would cause a spouse who is resident of a related institution and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.
These factors typically result in alimony for a definite period of time, if at all.
The only time the court awards alimony for an indefinite period is when the court finds that:
- Due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or
- Even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.
However, these factors are often tempered by other factors such as the length of time the parties were married.
Alimony requires a complicated analysis. The statutes involved and the cases that interpret them provide guidance, but ultimately the decision rests with the Court. Having experienced counsel can help navigate these issues and present them to the Court in the proper way. Contact us today for a free consultation on your Family Law needs.