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Answering common questions about alimony

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Divorce

With gray divorce on the rise in Maryland and throughout the country, many older adults may have questions about alimony. This is because, quite often, such divorces involve one party that has been partially or fully financially dependent on the other for many years, even decades. As people move forward with ending these marriages, some may wonder what money they are entitled to as part of the divorce. Here is some information that both parties in such a scenario should know when it comes to the alimony portion of a divorce settlement. 

Which laws govern alimony? 

Alimony is governed by state law, meaning the jurisdiction where a divorce is filed will determine the situation. Depending on the state, alimony can be temporary, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and/or permanent. 

How is alimony calculated? 

Alimony is typically calculated first by adding up the income from both spouses. From there, the court will consider the needs of each spouse as well as their capacity to pay for those needs relative to their prior income. State laws will play a role in the exact formula or system used to determine amounts, and outcomes can vary by location. 

What are some things that may surprise people about alimony? 

One thing that may surprise people about alimony is how uncommon permanent alimony is in the current legal system. Only a handful of states, not including Maryland, can grant permanent alimony. In addition, courts across the United States rarely will make a judgment that requires a spouse to work past retirement, a reality that can have a particularly stark impact on older couples.  

Alimony can be a factor in many divorces, for families of varying ages and gender dynamics. However, alimony issues disproportionately impact older women; 98% of alimony recipients are women, and the longevity of financial dependence is a key factor in determining alimony overall. Individuals on either side of an alimony determination should work with a Maryland lawyer to understand the state-specific laws that may impact their case, as well as guidance on how to move forward. 

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