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How alimony works in Maryland

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Alimony is a payment made periodically from one spouse to another after a divorce and can be ordered by the Court. The payments typically last for a set time period so the formerly dependent spouse can become self-supporting. Alimony can only be awarded in Maryland before a divorce becomes final. This means that a spouse cannot come back after the divorce has gone final and ask for alimony payments.

The Courts in Maryland are not able to change an alimony agreement that has been signed by the divorcing parties and that states the alimony is non-modifiable. Sometimes, agreements made by the divorcing couple can include more than just direct alimony payments. They could also include payments on behalf of the dependent spouse for mortgages and other loans. For the most part, alimony ordered by the Courts will only be a periodic payment.

There are three types of alimony:

- Alimony pendente lite: This is alimony awarded by the Court after you file for divorce and lasts until the divorce is final. Its purpose is to keep the status quo while the divorce is being finalized. This type of alimony does not guarantee that more will be awarded following the divorce.

- Rehabilitative alimony: This is alimony that is most likely to be awarded in a divorce case in Maryland. This alimony is associated with a time-limited goal. For example, maybe you need to go back to school prior to working. The alimony will be paid to you for the length of time you are in school and then returning to the workforce.

- Indefinite alimony: Indefinite alimony is more rare in Maryland. If ordered, it has no end date attached to it. Indefinite alimony is awarded when a person's illness, age, or disability does not allow them to become self-supporting. It is also issued when the standard of living of the former spouse is "unconscionable disparate" from the other spouse. This is when there is a large and unfair difference between the two standards of living.

An experienced family law attorney in Gaithersburg, Maryland, can answer all of your questions about alimony and the law.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Alimony and Its Purpose," accessed Feb. 03, 2017

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