Monthly Archives: July 2021

Determining Alimony Awards in a Maryland Divorce

When determining whether a spouse should be awarded alimony, Courts in Maryland have broad discretion when doing so, but must make that determination within the State’s statutory parameters. There were no provisions for alimony under Maryland law until 1980 when the Maryland Divorce Code stated that the court may prescribe alimony for either party, “only if it finds that alimony is necessary.” When applying the factors set forth by the Family Law Code, Maryland courts have been conservative in deciding whether to award alimony, tending to favor rehabilitative alimony over indefinite, and judicious in deciding the amount and duration. There is no mathematical formula to determine an alimony award; it is subjective and fact-driven.


Types of Alimony 

There are three types of alimony the court will consider awarding: 

  1. Alimony pendente lite. This type of alimony is temporary and awarded to maintain a spouse’s status quo during a divorce proceeding, focusing only on need and the ability to pay. It can be awarded only after a divorce proceeding has been filed by a spouse, and does not guarantee that the recipient spouse will continue receiving support following the final divorce decree. Since the divorce process can be lengthy due to court backlogs or complications within the case, the lesser employed or economically dependent spouse might require financial support during the pendency of the divorce action. 
  2. Rehabilitative alimony. This type of alimony is time-limited and purpose-directed. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help support a party to a divorce for the time the court deems necessary for that party to be able to support themself. That recipient spouse may have left the job market to care for the parties’ children, to take on other familial responsibilities, or to be supportive of their spouse’s career. Typically, rehabilitative alimony is structured with the goal of the dependent party earning a degree, acquiring skills and experience, and becoming self-supporting. Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony awarded. 
  3. Indefinite alimony. This type of alimony has no specific endpoint. Maryland courts grant this potentially lifetime alimony award in limited circumstances – when a divorcing spouse has no ability, due to age or health, to make reasonable progress towards self-support, or if the parties’ respective standards of living would be “unconscionably disparate” from one another, even if the recipient spouse took all steps to become self-supporting. “Unconscionable disparity” is assessed if there is an extreme difference between the living standards of the divorcing couple. The court has specified that “a mere difference in earnings, even if it is substantial,” does not automatically qualify, and that to constitute a “disparity” the difference must be “fundamentally and entirely dissimilar.” [Karmand. V. Karmand, 145 Md.App. 317, 802 A.2d 1106 (2002)].


Factors Determining Alimony Award

In determining whether, how much, and/or for how long to award alimony to a divorcing spouse, the court considers the family’s circumstances in their entirety. Factors including the following are weighed and balanced carefully by the court, according to Maryland Code, Family Law 11-106:  

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • Standard of living of the parties during the marriage
  • Age of each party
  • The physical and mental condition of each party
  • The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to secure suitable employment
  • The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her own needs while meeting the needs of the petitioning party
  • Financial resources of each party, including all income and assets, retirement benefits, and any award of possession and use of family property
  • Nature and amount of debt/financial obligations of each party
  • Circumstances that lead to the estrangement of the parties
  • Any contractual agreements between the parties


Alimony Amount 

Maryland courts are not bound by any specific numerical formula in devising the amount of alimony prescribed. Instead, the “knowledge, experience and judgment of the circuit court judges are the best determinants for making awards that are ‘fair and equitable’” under Maryland Law, FL Section 11-106(b) (Boemio v. Boemio, 994 A. 2d 911). The court is required to ascertain and balance the totality of factors operating on the divorcing spouses, including factors that are not specifically referenced above. 

Given the variability and import of the alimony determination in a divorce proceeding, divorcing parties should seek representation by experienced counsel to ensure the best outcomes. Attorneys at TNS Family Law help their clients achieve optimal alimony awards by advocating for their particular circumstances and needs, while understanding the nuances of Maryland courts.


If you need advice or representation related to a child custody case, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


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Maryland Child Custody Laws

Child custody cases can be exceptionally challenging, given the emotional toll that it takes on parties, especially when custody is part of an overall divorce proceeding. When going through such a trying time, it is important to have legal representation that has a wealth of experience, but also compassion and care, to stand by you and your family throughout the process.

The attorneys of TNS Family Law have a deep understanding of all Maryland-specific child custody laws and are here to provide exceptional legal counsel as you navigate this difficult time. Our primary concern is ensuring the well-being of your child (or children).

In the State of Maryland, there are two classifications of child custody, legal and physical. The courts can grant a variety of custody combinations, such as sole, shared, or joint custody.



Legal Custody

Legal custody determines who will be responsible for making important decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions can include:

  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Religion
  • Participation in extracurricular activities
  • Overall welfare

The judge may decide to grant sole legal custody, meaning one parent is responsible for all of the decision-making, or shared legal custody, resulting in both parents collaboratively making the decisions in the best interest of the child. If parents are granted shared legal custody, they must make a good faith effort to reach mutually agreed decisions regarding the short- and long-term care of their child. In situations where both parents cannot agree, one parent may be awarded tie-breaking authority, which allows them to make the final decision regarding their child’s care.


Physical Custody

Physical custody determines where the child will physically be on a day-to-day basis. One parent may be granted primary or sole physical custody of the child, with the other parent being granted access. The parents may be awarded shared physical custody of the child. There are many schedule iterations, which are reflective of the current circumstances of the parties and child as well as the best interest of the child.


How is Custody Determined?

Each child custody case is unique, and the judge will factor in a variety of items when making their decision, but will ultimately act in the best interest of the child. They may determine that a combination of joint and shared legal and physical custody will permit the child to receive the care they require. If one parent is deemed unfit and there is evidence to support they are unable to properly care for the child, the court may determine it is in the child’s best interest to grant sole custody to just one parent. In certain limited circumstances, supervised access may be appropriate.

The court looks to the factors set forth by prior case law when determining what is in the best interest of the child. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Parent’s ability to financially support the child
  • Home/living situation of each parent
  • Child’s preference
  • Parent’s ability to communicate and agree on decisions related to the child’s care
  • Disruption of a child’s schooling or social life
  • The overall health of each parent
  • Parent’s ability or desire to share custody


Unmarried Parents

In the state of Maryland, both parents, even if they are unmarried, are entitled to the same types of custody listed above, with one additional step. Unmarried parents must prove paternity through a DNA test, a written statement that they are the parent with no objection from the other parent, or by showing a birth certificate that lists them as a parent. Once paternity has been verified, a child custody case will proceed. The court will weigh the same factors and decide in the best interest of the child when awarding custody.


Our Firm is Here to Support You

Child custody cases can be difficult and emotionally draining. The attorneys of Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders are committed to shouldering the legal burden so you can focus on what matters most, the happiness and well-being of your child. We have the expertise needed to provide you with legal advice and representation in child custody and child support cases. Our primary concern throughout every child custody proceeding is to act in the best interest of your family and establish custody that is in the best interest of the child.


If you need advice or representation related to a child custody case, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


Related Posts: 
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Divorce Attorney
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Litigation vs. Mediation: Choosing the Ideal Route for Your Family

If you are filing for divorce in the state of Maryland, you have several options to resolve the pending issues and finalize the divorce. Every marriage is different and each couple is going to have unique goals and circumstances that will inform the optimal choice for both parties. The options include litigation, negotiated settlements, mediation, arbitration, and collaborative practice. Here, we will focus on comparing more traditional litigation route and mediation. 



In a litigated divorce, each spouse retains their own family law attorney who will review that individual’s financial, familial, and personal objectives, and advocate solely for their client. The parties must follow the schedule and deadlines set by the Court, and engage in a more formal discovery process.  The attorneys advocate for their respective clients before the Court. A settlement may be reached prior to the Court making a decision, sometimes on the eve of trial. 



In mediation, the spouses agree to hire a neutral mediator to facilitate an agreement that benefits both parties. The mediator may be a family law attorney, a retired Judge who has presided over family law matters, or an individual who has certified mediation training and is familiar with Maryland divorce law and litigation. Parties may attend mediation unrepresented, or have counsel present to provide legal advice during the mediation session. 

The choice between a litigated divorce and mediation should be made carefully and with a deep understanding of the pros and cons. The details of a final divorce agreement will affect each party’s finances, children, and emotional well-being for many years to come. Your trusted family law attorney can help you make this decision to align with your goals and circumstances.


Advantages of Litigation 

  • Level the financial playing field: If only one spouse has control over the family’s financials, the less knowledgeable spouse is less equipped to make informed demands and concessions regarding the host of complicated financials of the couple’s divorce agreement. An extreme imbalance in knowledge often requires a more formal discovery process and the personal representative of a family law attorney rather than parties attending mediation unrepresented.
  • Trust: If a client does not trust that his or her spouse acted truthfully or in good faith with regard to family finances, personal legal representation is usually advised. When a case is opened with the Court, it will permit for the discovery process, including subpoena power, and allow counsel to review and track assets, investments, income, and employ a forensic accountant or other experts if necessary.
  • Arms-length communications: In cases where the two spouses are unable to calmly “sit together” at the mediation table, both literally and figuratively, they can spare themselves that discomfort and deal only with their respective attorneys. If the spouses live together or share custody or care of minor children, delegating potentially heated negotiations to their attorneys can eliminate strife in their daily communications and in the presence of their children. 
  • Avoid the need for review counsel, or wasted time and money on a failed mediation attempt: If a couple pursues mediation without counsel, then prior to signing any agreement, the mediator will recommend that each party review the agreement terms with their own counsel. A mediator cannot provide legal advice to either party, and the mediator will rely upon the parties to provide their financial information voluntarily. Engaging in litigation from the start precludes the risk of doubling up on review and fees for both a mediator and lawyers. Carefully assessing this risk from the start on a case-by-case basis will avoid expensive overlap.



Advantages of Mediated Divorce 

  • Personalized: Mediated settlements can be finely tailored to the individual needs of the family. The mediator guides the parties to agree through a “give and take” approach, depending upon the unique values and preferences of the couple. Parties can participate in multiple mediation sessions in order to reach a final resolution. In-court litigation is decided by judges who have the power to make rulings for families with whom they have no familiarity beyond what is presented at the trial. Mediated settlements can be creative and personal in order to meet as many familial needs as possible.  
  • Cost-efficient: One professional, versus two, is retained in a more agreeable and resultantly less time-consuming process. The costs are much more transparent and controllable by parties to a mediation. Additionally, scheduled mediation sessions planned at mutually convenient times for all parties save time and money.
  • Improve amicability: The communication required between the spouses in mediating a divorce settlement can help preserve shared history, property, children’s well-being, and the couple’s circle of family and friends. Ending the marriage while maintaining these critical components of life can result in a more positive outlook and future for all involved. 
  • Benefits the children: The couple’s ability to determine the custody and visitation schedule that works best for the myriad needs of their children is a major advantage of mediation. Further, an amicable divorce settlement, or at least a less litigious one, salvages the sense of family and security for children of divorcing parents.
  • Privacy: Judicial hearings are conducted in open court. A public address of such private matters can feel humiliating to the parties and potentially add to the trauma of this highly personal process.


TNS attorneys are proficient in litigation, mediation, and other avenues of alternative dispute resolution, and understand the intricacies of each process. We pride ourselves in guiding divorcing couples in Maryland towards the most advantageous route for their individual case.


If you have questions about divorce and mediation, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


Related Posts:     
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What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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