Married people have a legal obligation to support each other financially. When the couple separates, the obligation remains until a divorce decree is final.
Depending on each spouse’s circumstances, an obligation to support a spouse could continue after divorce. Money paid from one spouse to support a former spouse is called alimony or spousal support.
Alimony rights in the state of Maryland are more limited than in many other states. If you are ending your marriage and have questions about your obligations to pay alimony or your prospects of receiving alimony, consult with a seasoned family attorney. A Chevy Chase spousal support lawyer could answer your questions and help you reach a fair and appropriate agreement regarding spousal support.
Three Types of Alimony
Maryland state law recognizes three types of spousal support. Each type serves a different function. A party seeking alimony must raise the demand for spousal support during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. A court will not award alimony after issuing a final divorce decree.
Alimony Pendente Lite
This type of alimony is also called temporary alimony. Temporary alimony is intended to maintain the financial status quo between the parties while the divorce is pending.
Most spouses who receive alimony after divorce receive rehabilitative alimony. The payments are intended to allow one spouse time to set up a new household and return to school or develop marketable skills. The support continues only until the receiving spouse finds a means to be self-supporting. Courts could require a spouse to pay rehabilitative alimony for a set timeframe extending for several years, depending on the circumstances.
Indefinite or permanent alimony is awarded after a divorce if the receiving spouse will likely never be self-supporting. Most recipients of permanent alimony have physical or mental health conditions that prevent them from working enough to earn a living. In some cases, a spouse’s age might entitle them to permanent alimony. A judge could award permanent alimony if there is an “unconscionable disparity” between the lifestyle the spouse enjoyed while married and the lifestyle available to them as a single person.
Though, even awards of indefinite alimony are not necessarily permanent. If there is a material change in circumstances, such as a paying spouse becoming disabled or a receiving spouse remarrying, a party could petition the court for a modification of spousal support. A knowledgeable Chevy Chase alimony attorney could advise a spouse whether legal grounds for modification exist in their case.
Considerations When Awarding Spousal Support
Alimony is not always awarded when people divorce, even if a spouse has asked for it. Maryland Statutes Annotated Family Law §11-101b governs alimony awards. Courts consider the requesting spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay when awarding spousal support.
If one spouse has asked for alimony and the other spouse objects to the request, a judge will consider various factors to determine whether spousal support is appropriate. These factors include, but are not limited to, the:
- Parties’ lifestyle while married
- Duration of the marriage
- Reason for the dissolution of the marriage—a party’s profligate spending or fault could affect a request for alimony
- Ability of each party to earn a living post-divorce
- Value of the property each party will take from the marriage
- Caretaking responsibilities of either party, if they might prevent the party from working full-time
Once a judge has made an award for spousal support, the parties are legally bound to adhere to it. If a spouse fails to pay alimony as ordered, the receiving spouse has several legal alternatives to collect the amount in arrears. A well-practiced spousal support lawyer in Chevy Chase could evaluate which process might be most effective in a specific case.
Depend on a Chevy Chase Spousal Support Attorney to Handle Your Case
If your marriage is ending, the financial arrangements you make now will impact the ease with which you move into your new life. Work with a dedicated legal professional to ensure that alimony is fair and represents the parties’ needs and capacity to pay.
A Chevy Chase spousal support lawyer could provide guidance on handling often contentious alimony issues. Schedule a time to speak with a committed attorney today.