Alimony or spousal support is a monetary award in Maryland that one spouse pays to the other during and after divorce to cater to their financial needs. The amount payable differs from person to person, depending on their unique circumstances; however, the court ensures it’s reasonable and appropriate.
Types of alimony
Maryland has temporary, short-term and permanent or long-term alimony. The aim of temporary alimony is to help the receiving spouse financially until the completion of their divorce process. Short-term alimony lasts for a period of 1 to 5 years, and the court may order permanent or long-term alimony in rare cases where couples have been together longer than 20 years.
Factors considered by the court
When determining spousal support, Maryland courts take into account many factors, including:
- Each party’s current financial situation
- The length of the marriage
- Earning capacity of both parties
- Contributions each party made during the marriage (including homemaking)
- Educational level and age of each party
The court may also consider fault in determining alimony. For example, if the spouse that’s set to receive spousal support contributed to the end of the marriage due to actions like abandonment, abuse or adultery, the judge may decide to reduce their alimony award.
Modifying or terminating alimony
A spouse can file to modify or terminate spousal support if their circumstances have changed. The court may agree to decrease or increase the amount of alimony, depending on your case and the new factors presented. However, if the paying spouse stops making payments without consent from a judge, the court can hold them in contempt.
If alimony is something that you’re likely to deal with in your divorce, it’s important to also consider the tax consequences. Prior to January 1st, 2019, Maryland considered alimony a taxable income, meaning the receiving spouse had to report it as income when filing their taxes while the paying spouse could deduct it from their taxable income. However, due to the new tax laws, alimony is no longer considered taxable income. The receiving spouse doesn’t have to report it, and the paying spouse must still pay full income taxes on their payments.