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.


Related Posts:  
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement? 
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Divorce Attorney
What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

Office Location
Quick Contact
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.