Alimony

There are 2 times during a litigated case when alimony is at issue (just like child support described below) so long as a ground for divorce exists. There is temporary a/k/a pendente lite (pron. “pen-den-tay lee-tay”) alimony which is often granted relatively soon after a complaint for divorce is filed with the court and served on the opposing party. Later in the case a merits (i.e. final) determination will be made by the court whether or not to grant merits alimony from that day forward. The amount and duration will not change unless or until modified by agreement of the parties or further court order. Modifications of child support are only made if a party can prove a “material change in circumstances” concerning the income, needs and/or expenses of one or the other of the parties. Pendente lite alimony can also be modified based upon a similar proof being made to the court. Pursuing such a modification is not
commonly done.

Pendente lite alimony is authorized by Annotated Code of Maryland Section 11-102 and is determined based upon the income and expenses of the parties. It is often ordered in an attempt to keep a financial status quo between them. That is often difficult to do and frequently results in financial hardship of varying degrees to one or each of the parties. Pendente lite alimony will only last until the date of divorce. At the merits divorce hearing a determination will be made about whether any further alimony will be payable from one spouse to the other. It is important to note that alimony, whether or not it is paid after the date of divorce, is taxable to the party who receives the alimony and tax deductible to the person who pays it.

There are 3 types of alimony a court may order to be paid after the date of divorce:rehabilitative alimony, indefinite alimony and permanent alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is not likely to be ordered to be paid for more than five years. The purpose is to provide support to a spouse who needs time to bring his/her earnings up to a higher level to support themselves, or to help support themselves while they get an education to raise their earning capacity or retrain them for that purpose. Indefinite alimony is support which is indefinite in length of time to be paid and in the amount to be paid. In some cases, either by agreement or court order, there may be a period of alimony that is first paid as rehabilitative alimony and then becomes indefinite. The third type of alimony is permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is awarded in rare cases where a party is unable to support themselves for a variety of reasons (e.g.
age, infirmity, etc.).

Attorneys and courts alike evaluate the various types of alimony based on the facts of each case. The factors considered, include, but are not limited to, the age and health of each party, the lifestyle of the parties, the parties’ education, the work history of the parties, the assets each party has had available to them during and after the divorce, the length of the parties’ marriage, the financial needs of the party requesting alimony and the other parties’ ability to afford it to pay it in light of his/her own expenses, and just about any other fact the court may wish to consider. Courts are required to consider each factor when analyzing a case set out in Annotated Code of Maryland Section11-106. It is the policy in the State of Maryland that alimony is not a form of pension that a party is entitled to merely as a result of their marriage to the other party from whom alimony is sought.

During the period alimony is payable, it will terminate in the event the payee marries, one of the parties dies, or the payee remarries. However, the parties may agree that alimony terminates or is modifiable based on just about any situation they can agree on. Under some circumstances alimony will terminate when the payee lives with an other person in a relationship similar to a marriage.

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