Maureen Renehan: The terms “alimony” and “spousal support” are used interchangeably in Maryland. They both mean the financial support paid from one spouse to another during the party’s separation or following their divorce. “Pendente lite alimony” is a little bit different; “pendente lite” means “during litigation” in Latin, and so that term refers to support that is ordered to be paid from one party to another during the course of the pending litigation.
There are a total of 12 factors that the court needs to take into consideration in awarding alimony, and those factors are codified in the Maryland family laws. Some of the factors are what you would expect, like a spouse’s ability to pay alimony and maintain his or her expenses, or each party’s financial needs. Then there are some less obvious factors, such as how long the parties were married, what led to their separation, their respective ages and their health, and the different non-monetary contributions that each party made to the marriage.
It does not. It’s more expensive to run two households than it is to run one. Following a divorce, it might be that neither party is able to maintain the same standard of living as when they were in the same household.
That depends. Alimony is not intended to be a lifetime pension to support someone: it’s intended to get somebody back on their feet following divorce. For those reasons, we see more temporary alimony arrangements than we do permanent arrangements. However, the court does have the ability to award permanent alimony. In those cases, we see that when a party has become as close to self-supporting as they can be, their standard of living is still unconscionably disparate from the other party’s standard of living.
I think you’re essentially asking, “Is alimony modifiable?” If a case goes to trial and alimony is awarded, then yes, it’s modifiable. Also, if there is a material change in circumstances, alimony can later be modified. However, if the parties enter into an agreement and they specifically state in their agreement that the alimony terms are not to be modified by any court of law, then neither party can return to court later and ask to modify alimony.
Child support consists of payments made from one spouse to the other to support and cover the children’s basic needs. Child support in Maryland is calculated on a formula basis, and the formula is called the “Maryland Child Support Guidelines.” The Maryland Child Support Guidelines are mandatory in all cases where the parties’ combined monthly income is under $30,000 per month. In cases where the parties combined income is over $30,000 per month, then the child support amounts are discretionary on the part of the court.
The court looks at the party’s actual income, which includes pretty much everything you can think of: their salary, bonuses, wages, commissions, interest income, dividend income, trust income, and pension income.
Child support is intended to cover the children’s basic needs, including housing, food, clothing, and medical care among other things.
Child support can certainly be used by the recipient parent to cover those sorts of expenses. The child support guidelines do take into consideration which party is paying the children’s health insurance, their extraordinary medical expenses, and their childcare expenses.
The parent who has primary custody of the children will probably be the parent receiving receiving child support. That being said, this is not always the case. In very rare cases when the primary custodian is also the primary wage earner, you might have a situation where child support is paid to the primary wage earner. The child support guidelines are run on a shared custody arrangement when one of the parties has more than 128 overnights per year, which equates to roughly five out of 14 overnights in a two-week period. Now, if a party has less than 128 overnights per year, then it’s going to be run on sole custody guidelines.
It ends when the children turn 18 and graduate from high school, whichever comes later.
It does not. Maryland courts consider children to be adults upon turning 18 and graduating from college.
Yes, it can definitely be included in a parenting plan or a divorce agreement. The courts do not have the ability to order the parties to contribute to the kids’ college expenses, but if the parties reach an agreement about that, then it can absolutely be included in an agreement.