Howard County Spousal Support Lawyer
When a marriage ends, the dependent spouse may be eligible for spousal support. Although spousal support laws are broad and complex, we have covered some of the most important things you need to know, including how a spousal support lawyer might be able to help in such situations.
What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, also known as financial support, alimony, or spousal maintenance, is the money paid by one divorced spouse, usually out of their income, to supplement the other spouse’s income.
Maryland Spousal Support Laws You Should Know
Since the topic of spousal support is broad, we may not cover the entire set of rules you need to know, whether you are the individual paying support or petitioning for support. That said, below is an overview of some of the most important spousal support laws in Maryland you need to know.
In Maryland, the Circuit Court might award a divorcing spouse ‘rehabilitative alimony.’ This kind of alimony only lasts up to a certain period, usually until when the dependent spouse becomes self-sufficient. The term ‘self-sufficient’ or ‘self-supporting’ refers to a situation where an individual can comfortably take care of their basic needs without the support of another individual.
In this case, alimony is usually awarded to the spouse who is not self-sufficient at the time. For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom going through a divorce. You may petition the Circuit Court to award you spousal support if your immediate former spouse is employed.
It is also important to note that the court awards spousal support only before the official termination of the marriage. In Maryland, you cannot file for spousal support once the divorce has been finalized.
If you and your former spouse had an agreement about how alimony should be paid when the marriage ends, the court would honor the terms of the agreement. For example, if your husband agreed to pay you 50% of their salary after divorce until you become self-sufficient or any other conditions are met, the court might decide to honor such an agreement.
Types of Spousal Support in Howard County
There are three main types of spousal support in Howard County, namely:
As mentioned before, this type of alimony is usually awarded to support the dependent spouse until a certain condition is met. For example, the Circuit Court might award the dependent spouse rehabilitative alimony until when they find employment.
In most cases, the court awards this type of alimony to spouses who need to go back to school to obtain an education that would help them seek employment later on. For example, a stay-at-home mom may need to return to school to obtain a degree, increasing her chances of securing employment after graduation.
Remember, the main goal of rehabilitative alimony is to allow the dependent spouse to become self-sufficient. The logic here is that the dependent spouse would have been self-sufficient earlier but chose to fulfill their marital obligations, such as taking care of the family, in favor of going to school. For this reason, it gives their dependent spouse a fair chance to ‘reset’ their life without worrying about their financial situation.
Alimony Pendente Lite
‘Pendente lite’ is a Latin word for ‘awaiting litigation.’ In this case, the court might decide to award the dependent spouse alimony between when they file for divorce and when the divorce is finalized. However, as discussed earlier, the court will not randomly award alimony or even consider it unless there is such a petition from the dependent spouse before the divorce is finalized.
If the petition is filed after the divorce, the court will not consider it.
The main goal of an alimony pendente lite is to ensure that the dependent spouse’s interests are taken care of while the divorce is still pending. Once the divorce has been finalized, the dependent spouse might lose their right to alimony pendente lite.
Although this is a rare kind of alimony, it still exists. As the name suggests, indefinite alimony does not end. The court might award indefinite alimony for the following reasons;
- If your age prevents you from being self-sufficient (for example, you are too old to seek employment)
- If you have an illness that prevents you from being self-sufficient
- If you have a disability that prevents you from being self-sufficient
- If you cannot make reasonable progress towards supporting yourself due to circumstances beyond your control
- If there’s a huge (and unfair) difference between your living standards and that of your former spouse
How Do Courts Calculate Alimony in Howard Country?
In Howard County and throughout Maryland, courts consider the following factors when calculating or determining alimony:
Length of marriage: Usually, the longer you’ve been married to each other, the longer the alimony.
Financial situation: The court will also consider both parties’ financial situation. For example, if the dependent ex-spouse was a full-time stay-at-home mom, they would likely get more spousal support than if they worked part-time.
In addition, the court will also consider the other spouse’s ability to pay spousal support based on their income or other factors brought to the court’s attention.
Age: The court will also consider how old the dependent spouse is. In most cases, the older they are, the more support they may need. For instance, indefinite support may be awarded to a spouse who is no longer able to work due to their age.
Health status: Under this category, a Howard County Circuit Court will consider the dependent spouse’s mental and physical health. If they are unfit physically or mentally, the court will award spousal support that reflects this aspect.
Grounds for divorce: The court will also consider the grounds for divorce. Usually, if the marriage ended due to extreme cruelty or abuse by one spouse towards the other, the court might decide to award the victim more spousal support.
It is important to note that the factors discussed above are not conclusive. The full scope of factors the court will consider usually depends on the specific circumstances of that particular case. Talk to an experienced spousal support lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about alimony.
Other additional factors that might come into play in these situations include:
- The standards of living the couple had established before the divorce
- The ability of the paying spouse to take care of themselves while also paying alimony at the same time
- The financial needs of each party
- Any prior agreements between each party regarding spousal support
Do I Need a Spousal Support Lawyer?
The most straightforward answer to this question is: yes, you do. Even when you think that your specific matter is not as complicated, a spousal support attorney can still help you in many different ways.
Remember, your circumstances will determine how much you are eligible for spousal support. An experienced attorney knows how to build a strong case on your behalf, ensuring that your best interests are taken care of even when the marriage ends.
Timing is also crucial when it comes to these kinds of cases. As mentioned earlier, you cannot file for spousal support once the divorce has been finalized.
Even if you genuinely forgot to file this petition or did not know that such a thing exists, the court would not take that as an excuse. But that is not the only deadline you need to be concerned about. The specific circumstances of your case will determine the crucial deadlines you need to keep up with, something an experienced attorney can help you navigate.
The issue of spousal support is also one of the most contested topics during a divorce. Usually, spouses fail to agree because one party is unreasonable. But with the help of an experienced attorney, you do not need to worry about dealing with an unreasonable spouse. Instead, the attorney will do all the heavy lifting for you, ensuring that your best interests are protected throughout the divorce process and even after.
How Can Divorce With a Plan Help?
When looking for a spousal support lawyer in Howard County, you need an attorney that genuinely cares about fighting for the rights of dependent spouses. Additionally, you need an attorney with a compassionate heart and, most importantly, a plan.
That is where we come in. Specifically, that is what we are known for. We are a family law firm with a plan. We do not just settle to end a case or fight just for the sake of it. Rather, create legal strategies that work for our clients at that particular moment and in the future.
Whether you need help petitioning for spousal support or modifying the terms of an existing spousal support order, our experienced attorneys might be able to help.
Contact Divorce With a Plan to Schedule a Consultation
Our attorneys serve clients across Howard County, including Columbia, Ellicott City, North Laurel, Woodstock, Elkridge, Highland, Fulton, Lisbon, and their surroundings.
We understand that a divorce can be overwhelming and difficult to process. So why suffer in silence when you can have an attorney on your side? Contact us here or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation and get your plan in place now.