Deciding to get a divorce is not an easy decision, but when you and your spouse realize the marriage is over, the divorce process has just begun. Depending on many factors unique to your marriage, you may be eligible for alimony, or spousal support. This could happen during the divorce proceedings, after, or both.
Alimony in Maryland
A quick bit of history. Alimony is a legal concept that prescribes for one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse after the marriage has ended. Often, because men were the primary breadwinners, women gave up careers to support the household. After divorce, this made it challenging for many women to financially support themselves. Today, it is common for both men and women to receive spousal support post-divorce.
Generally, alimony is awarded to one spouse before the end of the marriage. This might sound counterintuitive but, once the divorce is final, neither spouse has any duty to provide for the other. Alimony must be considered prior to that point.
There are three main types of alimony in Maryland. The first two are:
- Pendente Lite: This is alimony provided during the divorce proceedings. A court awards this alimony to maintain the status quo during the divorce proceedings. Often, the alimony-receiving spouse has no way to earn a living and pay for an attorney, so courts award this to get both parties on an equal footing during divorce proceedings. This does not guarantee the receiving spouse will receive alimony post-divorce.
- Indefinite: Extremely rare and predominantly awarded only to long-term marriages, indefinite alimony provides spousal support until the receiving spouse dies or their financial situation changes dramatically. This is awarded because the receiving spouse proved they gave up a career or contributed significantly to the marriage in a non-financial way. The paying spouse may request the court modify the amount at any time, but must provide evidence of the receiving spouse’s changing financial status.
The last type of alimony is rehabilitative. This is the most common type of alimony awarded in divorce proceedings, and usually has a limit on the amount of time the receiver can get support. When the receiving spouse sufficiently shows the judge that they do not have a way to financially support themselves currently, but they could in a reasonable time, courts may award rehabilitative alimony.
Most often, this occurs when one spouse needs time to get their degree or complete job training. While the amount of time this takes depends on many factors unique to you and your situation, generally rehabilitative alimony extends at least a couple of years and up to ten.
Factors a Court Considers When Determining Alimony
In Maryland, courts weigh numerous factors when determining whether and what type of alimony should be awarded to either spouse. These factors include:
- The length of your marriage.
- The ability of one spouse to provide support and the need for the other spouse to receive support.
- Your financial situation during the marriage.
- Your ability to financially support yourself after the marriage.
- Your age, physical condition, and mental health.
- Your contribution to the marriage.
- The standard of living during your marriage.
- The reasons for divorce.
- The time necessary for you to get education and job training to financially support yourself.
The court will also consider if you and your spouse have entered into any agreements about alimony. This is why it is vital that you tread carefully and consider the ramifications of signing any agreement. If you sign an agreement with your spouse about alimony, courts will usually abide by whatever you agreed to, unless there was clear evidence that you were taken advantage of or placed under duress to sign the agreement.
The above list of factors courts consider in determining alimony is not exhaustive. Courts must demonstrate that they have considered every relevant factor in determining alimony. The amount of alimony awarded will also depend on the above factors. The longer the marriage, the higher the standard of living, and if one spouse has the ability to pay alimony, the larger the alimony could be. But you also need a legal advocate to help push the judge in the right direction, understanding the factors they will consider, and advocating for an amount that makes sense for you.
Taxes and Enforcement
In the past, if you were paying alimony to a former spouse, you could deduct that alimony on your taxes. If you were receiving spousal support, you had to claim that money as income on your taxes. Today, however, that has changed, and the alimony paid is no longer tax deductible and alimony received is no longer taxable income.
This change is relatively recent, enacted in 2019. So, if you have a prior divorce and have been receiving alimony, you may still need to claim that money on your taxes as income. If you make a change to your alimony agreement, then you may qualify under the new rules which do not require you to claim alimony as income on your taxes.
If a court has awarded you alimony but your former spouse has not paid or has stopped paying, you can try to enforce the court order by alerting the court. The judge may then engage in a contempt proceeding, requiring your former spouse to show cause why they have not paid alimony pursuant to the court order. If your former spouse cannot provide a good reason, the court may hold them in contempt and require they pay back support.
The Baltimore Alimony Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, Help You Move on to the Next Chapter
Getting a divorce can be challenging and legally complex, depending on your specific situation. To get the support and guidance you need, speak with our experienced Baltimore alimony lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Contact us today at 443-589-0150 to schedule your free consultation with our skilled and compassionate team. We proudly serve Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland.