Determining an Alimony Award

Alimony is determined by the following 12 factors in Maryland:

  1. The ability to work and become self-supporting: This factor helps determine how long a spouse will receive alimony payments.
  2. Level of education or training: This involves the time and money needed for a spouse to receive proper education or training before he/she can get a job.
  3. Standard of living during the marriage: If the standard of living between the spouses is dramatically different, alimony will be awarded to the economically dependent spouse.
  4. Duration of marriage: A short marriage does not automatically mean no alimony, while a long one does not guarantee it.
  5. Monetary/nonmonetary contributions to the marriage: Monetary contributions to the family is income. Nonmonetary contributions include raising children, shopping, preparing meals, cleaning the house, etc. or working towards the economic success or reputation of his/her spouse.
  6. Reason for the dissolution of the marriage: The reasons for the divorce and conduct of both spouses are factored into the alimony award.
  7. Age of the spouses: Divorce between an older couple will likely result in permanent alimony for the economically dependent spouse.
  8. Health of the spouses: This factor includes both physical and mental health, and like age, it may result in permanent alimony.
  9. Financial ability to pay alimony: This factor generally relates to the earning ability of the spouse from whom the alimony is sought. An important element of this factor is whether the provider or recipient of alimony has engaged in “voluntary impoverishment.”
  10. Any agreement made between the spouses: If the spouses have made a prior, final agreement regarding alimony, that agreement will become binding.
  11. Financial need to receive alimony: The court will look at the financial needs and resources of each party including all income and assets; any monetary or use and possession awards; the nature and amount of financial obligations of each spouse; and the receipt of retirement benefits.
  12. Whether alimony payments would cause an early request/receipt of government assistance: This factor pertains to an institutionalized spouse who may need medical assistance sooner than expected. In general, a spouse who is institutionalized will not be required to pay alimony.

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