For couples considering divorce, finances are a huge part of the discussion. Alimony is among the many financial determinations that either the couple or the judge must decide.
Alimony is money that one former spouse pays to support the other; the payments may be temporary or permanent. Maryland law provides a list of factors courts must consider in determining whether alimony is appropriate and how much to award.
The potential recipient’s ability to support himself or herself
The potential alimony recipient’s ability to be financially self-sufficient is a major consideration in alimony decisions. This includes factors such as age, mental state, physical health, income, financial obligations, education, work experience and marketable skills. If the person needs more education or training to get a better-paying job, courts consider how long that process might take.
The potential payor’s ability to pay
Courts use factors such as age, mental and physical health, income and other obligations to evaluate the potential payor’s financial ability to pay alimony. Courts also consider whether paying alimony would cause this person to need or qualify for government aid.
The circumstances of the marriage
This group of factors includes information such as the length of the marriage, the monetary and nonmonetary contributions each person made to the marriage and the couple’s standard of living. Courts also consider each person’s conduct and role in causing the divorce.
Each person’s post-divorce resources
The other divorce terms, including the allocation of property, assets, debts and retirement benefits, determine each person’s resources after the divorce. Courts take these provisions and their fairness into consideration when making alimony decisions.
The couple’s agreement
Divorcing couples may agree about whether one of them will pay alimony, how much and for how long. Courts consider such agreements but are not bound by them.
While many factors go into an alimony determination, the goal is to ensure that the divorce is fair to both people.