Alimony is money one spouse pays to support a spouse or former spouse after the marriage is ended or the couple has separated.
Alimony is paid to support a spouse or former spouse. Child support is paid to support minor children. If the custodial parent is receiving alimony, both amounts might be paid to the same person, but they serve different purposes.
There are factors the court must consider, but there is no formula or calculator that turns these factors into a dollar amount. Whether to award alimony, as well as the amount and duration of the award, are for the court to decide based on the facts of each case.
Maryland law says that the judge must consider "all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award." The statute's list of things the judge must consider includes:
The court can award alimony retroactively, starting from the date the complaint or petition seeking alimony was filed.
There is no statutory limit. The court can order alimony for a fixed length of time, or for an indefinite period. Even when the court orders alimony for a fixed length of time, the order can be modified to extend alimony for additional time, or for an indefinite period.
The court may award alimony for an indefinite period if either of the following is true:
Maryland courts have consistently declined to adopt a hard and fast rule regarding how much of a disparity in income there must be to justify an award of indefinite alimony. Each case depends on its own circumstances.
Yes. The court can modify an alimony award as circumstances and justice require.
Yes. Under Maryland law, a court cannot modify an alimony award if the spouses have made an agreement explicitly stating that the alimony award would not be subject to court modification.
Yes, alimony is generally taxable income to the spouse receiving it and deductible by the spouse paying it. (In contrast, child support payments are generally not taxable to the recipient nor deductible by the paying parent.)
You can find a wealth of information about divorce, alimony and related issues in our section on Maryland Divorce & Family Laws.
If you need legal advice, talk to a divorce lawyer in Maryland.
Content written by Meiselman & Helfant, LLC
For more information: www.meiselmanandhelfant.com