By: Susan Berry
Susan C. Berry is an Associate Attorney at WhitbeckBennett. Before coming to WB, Susan worked in the Family Law and Estate and Probate practice areas for nine years in the District of Columbia and Maryland. She is an experienced litigator with a passion for law and offers expertise in handling court cases and negotiating favorable settlements. To learn more about Susan, click here.
The Twelve Factors For Alimony In Maryland
1. The ability of the parties seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting –
The court is looking to see if you are seeking alimony, how are you currently supporting yourself. Do you have employment or receive income in some way? The court will want to know how much income each party can or will earn.
2. The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment –
How much time does the party need to because self-sufficient and care for themselves financially? Also how much time does one need to earn the education or certification to increase their income or begin earning an income?
3. The standard of living that the parties established during their marriage –
This is the most known standard, but don’t get too excited. The standard of living for each family is different and it varies by case. The courts will review how the parties maintained their life and if they lived within their means.
4. The duration of the marriage –
How long were the parties married has a great bearing on the court’s decision. Were you married for a short period of time like 2 years or a longer period of time like 25 years? This can affect if alimony is awarded and for how long you receive alimony.
5. The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family –
Did one spouse work while the other stayed home and raised the children? Or did both parties work and there was an income disparity? Either way, whatever was contributed to the marriage by each party counts even if one spouse did not earn an income at any time during the marriage.
6. The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties –
Did a party commit adultery or was there abuse and the other party chose to leave? Or did both parties decide it was time to separate? Either way, the court takes into account why the parties are getting a divorce.
7. The age of each party –
How old are the parties? This can affect how long the parties will be able to maintain employment or enter into retirement. Are the parties able to work for the next 20 years or 5 years? The court takes this into consideration because it concerns how long one party could receive support if awarded.
8. The physical and mental conditions of each party –
Are either party disabled in any way that can keep them from gainful employment? This can affect if either party can work or maintain employment. If one party is disabled or has never had meaningful employment then the court could find that alimony should be awarded because that party will never be able to care for themselves fully without the assistance of the other party or even the government.
9. Can the person who is being asked to pay alimony afford to pay it –
Can alimony be afforded? The court will look at the finances of the party whom alimony is being requested from and determine if they can actually afford to pay alimony. Even if the one party is deserving of alimony, if the other party cannot afford to maintain their household and pay alimony, the court may not award alimony in the matter.
10. Any agreement between the parties –
Do the parties have a Premarital or Post Marital agreement that concerns alimony? Were these issues decided before the parties decided to end the marriage? Have there been any written agreements since the parties separated? Any agreement reached between the parties will definitely be scrutinized by the court in determining alimony.
11. The financial needs and resources of each party including –
All income and assets, including property that does not produce income – The court will look at all the income and assets of the parties, which can include employment, any homes or rentals the parties may own, cars, etc. to assist in determining alimony and the amount. Homes in foreclosure or other debts and liabilities are considered as well.
Any marital property award, use of the possession of the family home, and personal property – Has the court awarded either party marital property, property acquired during the marriage? This could be anything from the marital home to a car the parties owned. The court will also look at if one party is currently living in the marital home and using any of the personal property the parties share, such as cars or other household items with value at the expense of the other party.
The nature or amount of financial obligations of each party – What does the budget look like for either party? What are the assets and liabilities each party has? This weighs into how much either party can afford and if one party can afford to pay alimony if awarded.
The right of each party to receive retirement benefits – Normally retirement benefits are considered marital property and divided by agreement or court decision. The court will take into account how much in retirement benefits the party requesting alimony is receiving when determining alimony.
Whether the award would cause a paying spouse or a spouse who is a resident of a care facility to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur –
Could the alimony affect any assistance that one may receive? The court will take that into consideration as not to hinder or over-benefit one party.
If you are considering getting a divorce and you or your spouse are a Maryland resident, you should consult an attorney to make sure you could possibly receive alimony in your divorce in the state of Maryland.