If you are separating or getting a divorce, spousal support, often called alimony, will be a part of your conversations. Spouses may be entitled to financial support from one another, if the end of a marriage leaves one of you at an economic disadvantage, the law could require the other spouse to continue to provide financially.

However, judges do not award alimony as a right—if you want it, you must seek it in your divorce filings. If you do not believe your spouse requires alimony, you can oppose their request.

Whether you are seeking alimony or hoping to avoid paying it, a Silver Spring spousal support lawyer could help you understand your rights and obligations. Working with a seasoned family attorney could help you manage your expectations and make realistic decisions regarding alimony.

Alimony Is Usually a Temporary Measure

Neither spouse has an automatic right to alimony, but one spouse may have an obligation to provide financial support to the other. If one spouse was financially dependent and will be unable to provide for themselves independently after the divorce, a court could order alimony to meet the spouse’s needs while they adjust to life as a single person. Courts also award temporary alimony if a spouse can demonstrate a need and the other spouse has the capacity to pay.

Couples can come to a mutual agreement on whether one spouse should pay spousal support to the other. If they have agreed in writing, Maryland Code Annotated Family Law §11-101(b) requires courts to award alimony in conformity with the agreement. A Silver Spring spousal support attorney could assist a couple in negotiating an alimony agreement and formalizing it in writing.

Pendente lite alimony is temporary alimony that a court orders while a divorce is pending. Its purpose is to maintain the couple’s financial status quo until an absolute (final) divorce is granted. Most spousal supports recipients get rehabilitative alimony, typically lasting for no more than a few years after the divorce. However, if a recipient spouse is caring for young children or a child with a disability, a court might extend support payments so that the receiving parent can devote their time to childcare.

Permanent Spousal Support Is Available in Some Cases

Courts may award permanent alimony in certain circumstances. A person might receive permanent spousal support if they suffer from a physical, mental, or psychiatric disability that prevents them from earning a living. Long-term alimony also could be appropriate if the recipient cares for a disabled child full-time and cannot work outside the home because of their caregiving responsibilities.

When a spouse’s age makes it unlikely that they will enter or re-enter the workforce, a court could also award permanent alimony. Courts also sometimes award permanent spousal support if there is a wide gap between the standard of living of the two former spouses. A wealthy person might be required to pay indefinite alimony to a former spouse of modest means.

Despite its name, permanent alimony might not last forever. But that often depends on the terms of any agreement reached by the parties or the original court order, there are circumstances where the paying spouse could petition the court to modify the alimony order. A knowledgeable Silver Spring alimony attorney could advise a spouse whether a specific event could trigger a modification request.

How Fault May Impact Alimony

Courts might consider the reasons the marriage failed when considering requests for alimony. Securing spousal support or being relieved of an obligation to pay it is one reason a spouse could consider bringing an at-fault divorce action.

For example, if a spouse requesting alimony proves their spouse committed adultery, a court might be more likely to consider that factor in any award of spousal support. Similarly, if a spouse opposing alimony proves the other spouse abandoned them, a court might consider that factor in any final award of alimony.

It is impossible to predict how a court will rule in a specific case. However, a well-practiced spousal support lawyer in Silver Spring could evaluate the evidence of fault and present their case for or against alimony accordingly.

Seek Advice from a Silver Spring Spousal Support Attorney

If you are divorcing and spousal support is an area of disagreement, consult a legal professional before making any decisions. Courts consider various factors when awarding alimony, and an experienced attorney’s perspective could help you formulate your stance.

Call today to schedule a consultation with a Silver Spring spousal support lawyer. With their guidance, you could find a solution that works best for you.