I am often asked, “How much am I going to have to pay in alimony?” Well, the answer is: “It depends.” And, it’s totally up to the Judge hearing your case.
Maryland law has several different types of alimony: pendente lite, which is alimony awarded for a specific time period, rehabilitative alimony, and indefinite alimony (permanent).
Alimony Pendente Lite
Pendente lite alimony is an award that maintains the status quo of the parties so that the wife or husband doesn’t suffer any financial hardship while they are waiting for their divorce proceedings to be finalized. There are four factors that must be proven before a pendente lite award will be granted:
- Proof of the marriage existing,
- Proof that a divorce proceeding is pending (meaning you have already filed for divorce)
- Proof that the spouse requesting the alimony needs the money,
- Proof that the other spouse has the ability to pay money to the receiving spouse.
Pendente lite alimony can become rehabilitative or permanent, depending.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded only for a specific period of time and for the purpose of easing the transition from being married into living apart from one another and independently. This type of alimony allows for a dependent spouse to obtain education or skills needed to become self-supporting.
The elements the court considers when making an award of rehabilitative alimony award are:
- The ability of the party seeking alimony to be self-supporting
- The time it may take for that party to gain education and training
- The standard of living the parties had during their marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The contributions each party made to their marriage
- What circumstances led to the divorce– adultery, cruelty, vicious conduct, desertion
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties
- The financial needs of each party
Indefinite Alimony- Also Called Permanent Alimony
In rare instances, the court may award alimony for an indefinite period of time. The court must find that (1) due to age, illness, infirmity, or disparity, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting, or (2) that even after the party seeking alimony will have made progress towards becoming self-supporting, the standards of living between the two spouses will be so disparate that it would be unconscionable.
There are two well-known guidelines often followed by the courts when determining alimony payments in Maryland: AAML (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers) and Kaufman, both of which take into account the length of the marriage and how much each party makes. However, while some judges consider these guidelines for determining alimony payments, it is not mandatory to do so.
It’s also important to note that an alimony award terminates upon the first of three events to occur:
- The death of one party
- The re-marriage of the receiving party
- The court finding that termination is necessary to avoid a harsh and inequitable result
Because determining alimony can be subjective, and is totally dependent on the specific facts of the marriage and family life of the spouses, navigating the court system to get an alimony award or defending against one is very complex. Please give Diamant Gerstein a call if we can help you with your divorce.