When deciding if alimony is warranted, Maryland Family Law Code # 11-106 requires a court to make a fair and equitable decision by considering several factors. Each one carries its weight, including:
The length of your marriage
The circumstances leading up to the dissolution of your marriage
The age, physical and mental condition of each party
The standard of living the couple established during the marriage
The contributions, both monetary and non-monetary, each party made to the marriage
The financial needs and resources of each party
The ability of each party to be self-supporting
The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain education or training needed to become self-supporting
The ability of the party paying alimony to meet their needs while also meeting the needs of the other party; and
Any agreements between the parties.
In child support determinations, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support will be calculated using the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. However, when determining alimony, there are no statutory guidelines required or a set formula for a judge to utilize.
As a reference, attorneys often do refer to the Kaufmann and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (commonly referred to as the “AAML”) “guidelines.” These can be referenced to give you a range of what to expect, but these “guidelines” are only reference points. It’s essential to keep in mind that in Maryland cases, they are not required to be considered or followed by the court. In my experience, these “guidelines” are excellent tools that should be utilized to educate yourself on the possibilities of your case.
Whether you are a potential payor or a potential recipient of alimony, consultation with an attorney is worthwhile. Due to the multiple factors a court must consider, and with the unique circumstances each case presents, all will have a profound effect on alimony determination. That’s why you should consult with an attorney as soon in the separation-divorce process as possible. If alimony is a potential issue in your divorce, whether you will be paying or receiving it, consultation is critical. Your attorney can provide you with the guideline calculations mentioned above, and give you advice regarding the facts specific to your case. All of which will have an impact on an alimony determination in your divorce.