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Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is the payment of support by one spouse to the other. Unlike child support, which is awarded in all cases involving minor children, spousal support is awarded only if the judge orders it at one party's request, or if the parties agree to it.
Also, in contrast to child support awards, spousal support is not determined by a statutorily mandated formula or guidelines. Therefore, alimony can sometimes be unpredictable and may yield widely different results even in similar cases. When the court determines whether alimony is appropriate, it weighs a number of much more specific factors than those used in child support cases. Based on this analysis, the court will determine whether to award spousal support, what type, and for how long.
There are three types of spousal support or alimony in Maryland: alimony pendente lite, rehabilitative alimony, and indefinite alimony. Alimony pendente lite is a form of support awarded during the divorce process and terminating on or before the date the divorce is final. Either rehabilitative alimony or indefinite alimony may be awarded in the final divorce hearing.
As a general rule, Maryland courts prefer to award rehabilitative alimony, which is for a limited time and is designed to help one party become self-supporting. In some cases, this goal is not practical, and it is unlikely that the party receiving spousal support will ever be able to be self-supporting. In such cases, indefinite alimony may be appropriate.
When deciding what type of alimony to award, and how much, Maryland courts look at a long list of factors, specified by statute, a few of which include:
Some of these factors, like the length of the marriage, are easy to determine. Others, like the reasons for the divorce, are more subjective. It is important to have an attorney who knows the law and knows how to present information to the court in the most favorable possible light to achieve the outcome you need. At the Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten, we advocate tirelessly both on behalf of parties who expect to pay alimony and those who need to receive it.
In addition to advocating on alimony issues in divorce cases, the Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten also represents clients in motions to enforce or modify alimony.
Because the award of Maryland spousal support is based on many subjective factors, the amount you must pay or may receive and the duration of the award can depend heavily on the skill of your attorney. The Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten can help you negotiate an agreement on alimony with your spouse if possible, and will fight for you at trial if necessary. However the issue is resolved, the cost over time of an award that is not in your favor may be much higher than the cost of a strong and effective advocate.
Attorney Dana Whitten represents spousal support clients in courts in most Maryland counties, including Montgomery County, where our Rockville office is conveniently located near the courthouse. We invite you to contact us at (301)762-2528 or using our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you on your Maryland spousal support matter.