Baltimore Divorce Lawyer: Alimony Factors

When a party requests the court to award alimony here are the factors the court looks to to determine how much and for how long payments should be made.

While the court is not required to exhaust each factor, it is best if each relevant aspect of your case is brought to the court’s attention to help the judge make his or her decision.

  1. Ability to wholly or self-supporting – Does the claimant have a way to pay for his or her expenses? 
  2. Time necessary to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment
  3. Standard of living – Were the married couple living on mac mansions or roman noodles? 
  4. Length of marriage –Alimony can be awarded even for marriages that last a year.  – Malin v. Mininberg 153 md app 358 (2003) No limitation of alimony based on length of marriage. In the latter, alimony was in the amount of $3,500.00 for 5 years was awarded after a 3 year marriage.
  5. Unconscionable disparity of incomes – unconscionable is an amorphous term and very subjective term and looks at the gap between incomes. 200K per year versus 40k per year? 
  6. contribution – monetary and non-monetary? What did each spouse bring to the marriage? Non-monetary contributions such as being the primary caretaker of children count just as much as who brought home the bacon. 
  7. What caused the end of the marriage? Husband abandoned his wife. decided to end the marriage? No reason given?
  8. The age of the parties – older spouse with minimal education unlikely to be able to learn his or her way up the ladder versus someone in his or her thirties.
  9. Ability of the Payor to meet his or her needs while paying alimony – Can the person expected to pay alimony pay his or her expenses and cut that alimony check?
  10. Physical and mental condition of each party – Illness or disability are often significant factors in alimony cases as they impact a party’s ability to be self supporting and/or raise their incomes to the standard of living experienced during the marriage. 
  11. Financial needs and resources of each party – What other assets such as retirement accounts, savings account, real estate holdings does each party have at their disposal. For example, a party with little to no income but significant assets such as real estate investments may face questions about a claim for alimony.


Alimony Reservation at Trial

How to reserve on alimony? Show the party is maybe entitled to alimony?

The Alimony Act has not changed this rule so far as definite or indefinite alimony is concerned. If, therefore, a party does not make this showing, he or she is not entitled to alimony, and it would be an abuse of discretion to reserve. See Rhoad, 273 Md. at 465, 330 A.2d at 195-96 (reservation improper when claimant’s conduct disentitled her to alimony).*fn6Furthermore, in view of the Act’s emphasis on promotion of economic self-sufficiency, its favorable approach to alimony for a definite period, and its opposition to the notion of alimony as a lifetime pension, it would not be appropriate to reserve simply because there

may be some vague future expectation of circumstances that might show a basis for alimony. See Kingsley v. Kingsley,45 Md. App. 199, 412 A.2d 1263, cert. denied, 288 Md. 737 (1980); Benner v. Benner, 37 Md. App. 367, 377 A.2d 582(1977) (alimony not modifiable on basis of uncertain future expectations). By the same token, the possibility that a claimant might become aged, infirm, or disabled, or that standards of living could conceivably be unconscionably disparate at some unknown future date, thus potentially invoking § 11-106(c), would not provide a basis for reservation. 

Turrisi v. Sanzaro, 308 md a 515, 520 a2d 1080 (1987)