Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Will I Have to Pay My Spouse Alimony?

One of the many items to consider when getting a divorce is the possibility of having to pay alimony, or on the flip side, the possibility of receiving alimony from the other party.  Alimony is court-ordered spousal support, in the form of periodic payments, that one former spouse must pay to the other in connection with getting a divorce. 

What is the Purpose of Alimony?

The purpose of alimony is to allow the spouse who contributed to the marriage in non-monetary ways, to maintain the lifestyle that they are accustomed to, and not be left destitute as a result of getting a divorce.  The aim is for that spouse to eventually become self-sufficient.  Either spouse may be eligible to receive alimony in Maryland.

 Who has to Pay Alimony?  

Determining who has to pay alimony in a divorce is dependent on many aspects of a marriage such as who has a need for alimony, who is financially able to provide alimony payments, and what are the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, among other factors.  There is no “alimony guidelines calculator” in Maryland, in the same way that a guidelines calculator exists for determining child support. Instead, the court looks to a series of factors.  In general, the court holds that view that where one spouse was the breadwinner and made all the money, while the other spouse was a stay-at-home spouse that raised the children; it would not be fair to leave the stay-at-home parent with no funds after a divorce. 

In order for alimony to be awarded, a claim for alimony must be requested before the final order for divorce is entered. In other words, if you fail to timely request alimony, and a divorce order is entered, you cannot go back and later ask for an alimony award. 

How long do Alimony Payments Last?

In Maryland, there are three (3) types of alimony payments.  There is pendente lite alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and indefinite alimony.  (a) Pendente lite alimony is temporary alimony awarded during the pendency of divorce litigation. Pendente lite alimony can be awarded going back to the date you filed for divorce, with the purpose being to maintain the status quo, while the divorce case makes it way through the court.  (b) Rehabilitative alimony is the most common and most likely type of alimony to be awarded.  It is time-limited and typically tied to a particular goal. For example, rehabilitative alimony for three years, which is the length of time it will take the spouse receiving the alimony to obtain a professional degree.  The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to give the spouse seeking such alimony, funds in order to rebuild. (c) Indefinite alimony is the third type and is quite rare.  There is no time-limit designated.  The standard to receiving an award of indefinite alimony is “because of your age, illness, or disability” you are not able to make reasonable progress toward becoming self-sufficient, or even if you could make reasonable progress, your standard of living will be “unconscionably disparate” (meaning significant and unfair difference in standard of living) from your former spouse. 

What does the Court Consider when Awarding Alimony?

When a request for alimony is made the court considers many factors, which are outlined below in no particular order.  The court has broad discretion in making an alimony award.  The specific amount ordered will be specific to the facts of your particular case; there is no “average amount” of alimony that one can expect to pay/receive.  The factors considered by the court include:

  • How long have the parties been married
  • The age of both spouses 
  • The physical and mental condition of each party
  • The financial situation of the parties during the marriage
  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse during the marriage
  • The income and assets of the parties 
  • The reason for the separation of the parties 
  • The right to receive retirement benefits 
  • The standard of living during the marriage 
  • Time needed for the party seeking alimony to obtain employment
  • Any agreement between the parties
  • Disparity in each of the spouse’s ability to earn income

What Happens if Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?

If the spouse required to pay alimony per court order, stops making the ordered payments than the other party should make this known to the court. This can be through a motion for enforcement or a petition for contempt.  Both filings will let the court know that a court ordered obligation is not being met and that you are seeking relief from the court to get alimony back on track. The court has several options at its disposal to bring about payment, including, but not limited to, incarceration, suspending driver’s license, and implementing earning withholding order.  

Contact KGO

If you have any questions about obtaining alimony or seeking a divorce from your spouse, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Krum, Gergely, & Oates immediately for a consultation.