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MARYLAND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

THE BURTON FIRM > Alimony  > MARYLAND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

MARYLAND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

MARYLAND DIVORCE LAWYER

SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND

When a couple divorces or separates, a Maryland court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse regular monthly payments. Alimony should not get confused for child support because although both of these payments can be given to a certain individual, they serve different purposes. There are three types of alimony.

  • The first is known as alimony pendent lite, which is a temporary payment made while the case is pending.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is payment for a definite period of time to allow the spouse to become self-supporting.
  • And the last type, indefinite, is referred to a permanent alimony.

There is no set formula or calculator that the court uses to determine alimony, but there are a lot of factors a court takes into consideration. Things that the court looks at are:

  • the time it will take the spouse who wants alimony to get the training or education necessary to find suitable employment,
  • the length of the couple’s marriage,
  • the couple’s standard of living while married,
  • each spouse’s age and physical and mental condition
  • as well as the financial needs and resources of each spouse, including income, assets, retirement benefits, debts and property awarded in the divorce.

REHABILITATIVE & INDEFINITE ALIMONY

Sometimes the court may grant both a rehabilitative and indefinite alimony. And although a self-supporting spouse may not be entitled to rehabilitative alimony, the court may still award indefinite alimony under certain circumstances. There are two exceptions in which the court will award alimony for an indefinite period:

  1. The first is if the spouse seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress towards become self-supporting because of age, illness, infirmity or disability.
  2. The second is if the spouse can make progress toward become self-supporting but will not be able to meet the standards of living compared to the other spouse.

According to Maryland law, a court can modify alimony as “circumstances and justice” requires, but keep in mind that a court cannot modify an alimony award if the spouses have made an agreement explicitly stating that the alimony award would not be subject to court modification. Also keep in mind that alimony is never considered permanent because alimony, by definition will terminate on the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient. If you are going through a divorce and believe that you should be awarded alimony, speak with a Maryland divorce lawyer that understands the logistical nuances.

EXPERIENCED & KNOWLEDGEABLE ATTORNEY

Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney who will give you the answers to all your questions, and will be on your side is critically important. Our attorneys will spend the necessary time to design a plan that will achieve your goals, and explain the consequences of each strategic move. Active and aggressive representation is critical in this field. The outcome of your case matters to us. Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of divorce attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.

DIVORCE ATTORNEY MARYLAND

ALIMONY SCENARIO

Say, for example, that Tom and Jane get divorced, and Tom is ordered to pay Jane $1,200 a month for five years in spousal support. Two years later, Jane moves in with her boyfriend (but does not marry him.) Does this affect Toms’ obligation to pay spousal support?

Spousal support payments end in some states if the spouse receiving the payments has been living with a person of the opposite sex for a certain period of time, such as thirty days. Other states apply the rule that if a man and a woman present themselves to others as husband and wife, the ex spouses obligation to pay spousal support ends. One court ruled that signing a hotel register as “Mr. and Mrs.” was sufficient to show that the couple presented themselves to the public as married, and accordingly cut off spousal support payments. In any event, if Jane is receiving financial assistance form her live-in companion, Tom’s divorce attorney may be able to persuade a judge to reduce the spousal support payments in light of this new support.

SPOUSE DIES AFTER DIVORCE

Suppose that your spouse has been ordered to pay you $800 a month in spousal support for ten years. What happens to the remaining payments if the spouse dies after, say, only five years?

In many states, the obligation to pay spousal support ends with the death of the person who is obligated to make payments. In some states however, the obligation to pay future spousal support can be enforced against the deceased ex-spouse’s estate. But if the person doesn’t leave much of an estate, a judgement against it isn’t worth the paper its written on. If you will be receiving spousal support, you should insist that the settlement agreement require your spouse to maintain a life insurance policy insuring his or her life, with the proceeds available to you. This way, if your spouse does die before fulfilling the entire obligation to you, you are protected. But this protection is worthless, of course, if your spouse lets the policy lapse. An experienced family attorney can prepare your agreement to prevent this from happening to you, such as by making you the owner of the policy and the one to make the payments on the policy, which expense is added to your monthly support.

EX-SPOUSE FALLS BEHIND ON PAYMENTS

If your ex-spouse falls behind in making spousal support payments, your Maryland divorce lawyer can obtain a court order requiring that the payments be made current. If the person has moved out of state, it is still relatively easy to enforce the delinquent support obligations throughout the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement Support Act. At a court hearing, the person will be given an opportunity to explain his or her failure to pay. If the court orders payments brought up to date, and the person fails to do so, he or she can be found in contempt of court and jailed.

Although it is said that there is no “debtors prison” in America, the fact is that many ex-husbands currently are spending time in jail for failing to make spousal support payments. The law relies on the technicality that the person is in jail for failing to pay the debt, but rather failing to comply with a court order. It’s really just a matter of semantics made necessary by the fact that it is unconstitutional to incarcerate a person for failing to pay monetary debt.

DEDUCTED FROM THE PAYERS FEDERAL INCOME TAXES

Spousal support paid to an ex-spouse can be deducted from the payers federal income taxes if certain requirements are met, and the spouse who receives the spousal support generally must include the payments in his or her taxable income in the year received. Spousal support payments may also be deductible on state income tax returns.

MARYLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEY

SEPARATION/ PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

A marital separation agreement, also known as property settlement agreement, is a written contract that divides your property, lays out your rights and settles any problems like alimony and custody. It can be created before or after you have filed for divorce and can even occur while you and your spouse are living together.

AGREEMENT SHOULD PROVIDE

The separation agreement should provide: The care, custody and support for the children; the amount of support one spouse will contribute to the other; provision for health insurance benefits and the division of property. This agreement does not terminate the marriage nor does it give the right to remarry. Additionally, neither parties are allowed to have sexual relations with other people as that would be considered adultery. If you find yourself in such a situation with a spouse, consult with a Maryland family law expert that can explain the nuances of such an agreement.

If one party violates the agreement, the other may bring a lawsuit. Although the court will honor the agreement, the court can modify provisions affecting the care, custody, education, maintenance and support of the children in order to protect their best interests. If you and your spouse are deciding to separate, it’s time to talk to a lawyer, especially if there is property or you have children together.

DIVORCE LAWYER WILL HELP YOU

You can draw up a separation agreement without the assistance of a Maryland divorce lawyer but keep in mind it’s very risky to do so. Without knowing your legal rights, you could potentially draw up an agreement that can create problems in the future. A negotiated settlement can preclude a contested divorce hearing, but the agreement will still be examined by the court prior to granting a divorce decree and may become part of the judgment. Make sure to contact a Maryland divorce attorney who can help you.

DIVORCE LAWYER MARYLAND

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLANS

All retirement, pension, and deferred compensation plan contributions by a spouse, as well as any matching or other contributions by an employer, during the marriage are community property. In today’s world, where divorce is common and people often re-marry more than once, a retirement, pension, or deferred compensation plan may be both community and separate.

QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDER (QDRO)

In order to properly divide such a plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), or Domestic Relations Order (DRO), is required. This is an order prepared after the Entry of Judgment, which divides the retirement, pension, or deferred compensation plan. Until the QDRO is prepared, signed by a Judge, and served on the plan administrator, the division does not occur. Getting a QDRO, for the lay person, can be very difficult. Each plan administrator may have its own in house rules and procedure. Moreover, there is a large and complex body of federal law that has to be understood and observed.

CONSULT WITH A LAWYER

In order to obtain a QDRO (or DRO), you really should consult with an experienced divorce lawyer in Maryland as quickly as possible to learn what law(s) apply to your situation, what litigation strategy would be most beneficial to achieving your goals, and what the estimated costs of the litigation may be.

CONTACT MARYLAND DIVORCE LAWYER FOR HELP

Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer who will give you the answers to all your questions, and will be on your side is critically important. Our attorneys will spend the necessary time to design a plan that will achieve your goals, and explain the consequences of each strategic move. Active and aggressive representation is critical in this field. The outcome of your case matters to us. Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of divorce attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.