Understanding Alimony vs Spousal Support in Maryland

Alimony vs Spousal Support: Each refer to financial support paid from a spouse to another after divorce. Click to learn the determining factors in Maryland.

The breakdown of a marriage can lead to poverty and drastic changes in financial health.

When you live together as a couple with joint finances, everyone in the house has access to the same resources. Even if one person earns more than the other, the couple balances out the responsibilities of food, rent, and childcare.

Divorce can highlight the economic differences between partners. This is when the discussion on alimony vs. spousal support comes up.

If one former spouse ends up in a worse financial situation, they may be able to get support from the other.

This article will help you understand more about spousal support in Maryland and how a court will determine what to pay.

Understanding Alimony vs. Spousal Support

In Maryland, more than two out of every 1,000 married couples will get a divorce.

Aside from the heartbreak and trauma of ending a marriage, the administrative process of splitting a family apart can be overwhelming. You will need to decide who moves out of the family home and how to divide treasured assets.

There is also the painful process of deciding on child custody if you have children.

During all this, one partner could struggle with money as they take on more responsibilities alone. One spouse may have given up their career to stay home and care for the children. Contribution to a marriage is not only financial.

In this case, a court may rule that one party has to pay spousal maintenance to the other. This is known as alimony or spousal support.

There is no difference between alimony and spousal support. They are merely two terms for the same thing: An amount of money one former spouse will pay the other for a set time.

A court can grant payment of alimony during the divorce, after the divorce, or throughout the process.

The traditional term for this payment is alimony. This dates back to when women could not work or own property and depended upon men to take care of them. In a divorce, a man would have to pay for their upkeep and that of their children.

These days women have more equal rights. Now, either spouse may earn less money or take on childcare duties.

The term spousal support came about to reflect these changes. However, many courts still use the term alimony.

How to Seek Alimony

There are two ways to get alimony in Maryland. A divorce lawyer in Maryland can assist either spouse in filing a request for maintenance. In this case, the court will look at various factors to determine whether to award alimony and how much.

A judge can change this decision at a later time.

The couple getting a divorce may also come to an agreement that they are happy with outside of court. In this case, their written agreement will be binding, and a court cannot make changes to it.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

In Maryland, there is no alimony calculator that a judge will use to make their decision. Instead, they will weigh up a host of factors. These include  how dependent one party is on the other, their earning power, and their standard of living.

Maryland recognizes both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces. When deciding on alimony, a judge may consider what caused the marriage to end.

Here are other factors a court will consider:

  • Contributions to the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • The health of either spouse
  • Age
  • Ability to meet financial needs
  • All financial resources and debt
  • Who has child custody

The judge will also assess how long it would take the party requesting alimony to be able to find a good job. This can include the time to study or train to return to the workforce.

Types of Alimony

The court will award spousal support for a specific period. If a person fails to pay the maintenance amount, the court may hold them in contempt.

Here are some types of alimony you may receive or have to pay.

1) Alimony Pendente Lite

Sometimes one spouse needs a little help to get by during the divorce proceedings. A court can grant this type of alimony once the divorce process has begun. This will allow the person with a lower income to get the support they need until there is a final ruling on the divorce.

There is no guarantee of any further alimony once the divorce is final.

2) Rehabilitative Alimony

This is the most common type of spousal support. It is meant to provide the spouse with a lower income time to get back into the workplace or find a higher-paying job.

The spouse who is receiving alimony may have left their job to support their partner or raise children. The idea is that alimony will help them eventually be able to support themselves.

3) Indefinite Alimony

It is rare for a Maryland court to grant this type of alimony. It will only be given in exceptional circumstances. For example, if one party is too old or ill to ever support themselves.

A judge may also decide that there is no way the receiving party will ever be able to live the same standard of life they had when married.

How Long Will Alimony Be Paid?

The court will decide how long a person will have to pay their former spouse alimony. This will depend on the length of the marriage and how long it is likely to take the person receiving alimony to get back on their feet.

If a person receiving alimony gets remarried or moves in with a new partner, they may lose this maintenance.

The court may also decide to adjust the alimony if their circumstances change.

Hire a Spousal Support Attorney in Maryland

When your marriage ends, you want to find stability and move on as soon as possible. Having peace of mind over your financial situation will help move this along.

When it comes to alimony vs. spousal support, a divorce lawyer in Maryland will help you go through the process in the least painful way possible.

Contact us for a consultation to discuss your legal needs during your divorce.