Prince George’s County Spousal Support Attorney
Divorce can be an uncomfortable topic for any of the over 350,000 families in Prince George’s County, the second-most populated county in Maryland. Things can become even more complex when discussing the issue of spousal support. That is why you need a Prince George’s County spousal support attorney.
Overview of What a Spousal Support Attorney in Maryland Does
A Maryland spousal support attorney provides legal advice, representation, and guidance to individuals who are seeking spousal support. This attorney can also help individuals who are required to pay spousal support understand their rights and obligations under Maryland family laws.
What Is the Legal Definition of Spousal Support in Maryland?
In Maryland, spousal support, also known as alimony, is the financial support paid by one spouse to another after separation or divorce. This type of support is designed to help the recipient spouse meet their basic needs and maintain a standard of living similar to that established during the marriage.
What Are Some Important Spousal Support Laws in Maryland?
One thing you should know about spousal support laws in Maryland is that they are broad. They also apply differently depending on the specifics of each case. That said, there are some basic spousal support laws you should know regardless of the nature of your case.
Here are some notable ones.
There are several types of spousal support in Maryland. Examples include temporary, rehabilitative, and indefinite.
Temporary support is usually awarded during the divorce proceedings. This type of support helps the recipient spouse maintain the lifestyle they had in the marriage before a final order by the judge presiding over the case.
On the other hand, rehabilitative support helps a dependent spouse become self-sufficient after parting ways with their ex-spouse. This support lasts for a particular period or until a certain condition is met. For example, the recipient spouse may be entitled to rehabilitative support as they look for a job that would make them self-sufficient. However, the support will end once they find employment.
Indefinite, sometimes known as permanent support, may be awarded in long-term marriages or when one spouse cannot support themselves. Examples of situations that could warrant this type of support include the following:
- the length of the marriage;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the age and health of the parties; and
- the recipient spouse’s ability to become self-sufficient.
Several factors, including the length of the marriage and the dependent spouse’s financial needs, determine the length of time that spousal support is paid. In addition, in Maryland, spousal support can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a substantial change in income or a dependent spouse’s ability to support themselves.
A good example of a significant change in circumstances is when the paying spouse loses their job. In that case, they can petition the court to modify their child support obligations.
How Does the Court Decide if a Spouse Lacks Earning Ability To Provide for Their “Minimum Reasonable Needs”?
Circuit Courts in Maryland use a multi-factor analysis to determine if a spouse lacks the earning ability to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs” in a spousal support case. When making this determination, the court considers the following factors:
The education level of the dependent spouse, and their employment history and skills, will determine if they can obtain gainful employment.
The Circuit Court Judge will also consider the age of the dependent spouse and their physical and mental health to determine if they can support themselves.
Does the dependent spouse have any marketable skills? The answer to this question will determine their ability to obtain employment in their field.
The court will also consider the dependent spouse’s earning history. Once that’s figured out, they will evaluate the potential for future earnings based on their education, skills, and experience.
The time needed for job training or education
If the dependent spouse needs additional education or training to obtain employment, the court will consider the time and cost of such training.
What is the availability of employment in the dependent spouse’s field and the local job market? The court will examine the answer to this question when deciding whether the individual can pay for support.
Standard of living during the marriage
The court will also look at the standard of living established during the marriage and whether the dependent spouse can maintain a similar standard without spousal support.
Child care responsibilities
Suppose the dependent spouse has child care responsibilities. In that case, the court will consider that when determining their earning ability.
Is Spousal Support Taxed in Maryland?
Spousal support laws in Maryland have recently changed. For instance, Before January 1, 2019, spousal support was considered taxable income in Maryland. However, after January 1, 2019, this type of payment is no longer considered taxable income. Instead, it is considered a ‘tax neutral’ payment, just like child support payments.
So what does this mean to you if you are the spouse receiving or owing support?
If you are the recipient spouse, you do not have to pay taxes on spousal support payments because it is not considered income. On the other hand, if you are the spouse paying support, this payment is no longer tax deductible.
Bear in mind that spousal support laws are complex and subject to change. These laws may also apply differently at the federal and state level. For this reason, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable Prince George’s County spousal support attorney for guidance.
When Does Spousal Maintenance End in Maryland?
The end of spousal maintenance depends on the terms of the divorce decree or separation agreement. In most cases, spousal maintenance in Maryland ends if:
- the recipient of spousal maintenance remarries;
- either the payer or recipient of spousal maintenance dies;
- the recipient of spousal maintenance becomes self-sufficient; or
- if there is a significant change in circumstances.
It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the end of spousal maintenance can vary based on the specific circumstances of each case. For example, the Circuit Court can decide to end spousal support if it is fair and reasonable based on the specifics of that particular case.
Additionally, the terms of a divorce decree or separation agreement can provide for a different arrangement, such as a lump sum payment or a set number of payments rather than a monthly payment. This is yet another reason why it is always best to consult with a qualified family law attorney whether you are the spouse owing or required to pay support.
An experienced spousal support attorney from Divorce With a Plan can help you come up with a plan that works in the present and your long-term future.
How Does the Spousal Support Case Process Work in Maryland?
The first thing you need to know about the spousal support process in the Free State is that it varies depending on the specific circumstances of each case. That said, below is a general outline of this process.
One spouse must file for divorce to begin the process and include a request for spousal support.
After filing the divorce complaint, the court may issue temporary orders for spousal support. These orders remain in effect until the final divorce decree is issued.
The discovery process is then used to gather information about the parties’ financial circumstances. This includes but is not limited to their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The Circuit Court will use this information to determine the appropriate amount of spousal support.
Spouses can reach an agreement on spousal support through negotiation or mediation. In other words, the issue of spousal support does not usually have to be solved by the court. Instead, if they reach an agreement, the terms of the agreement will be incorporated into the final divorce decree.
However, suppose the parties fail to reach an agreement on spousal support. If so, the court will hold a hearing to determine the appropriate amount of spousal support. During the hearing, the court will consider various factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and the financial needs of each spouse, among others we discussed earlier.
After the hearing, the court will issue a final divorce decree that includes the amount and duration of spousal support.
How a Spousal Support Attorney Can Help
One of the biggest mistakes you will ever make, whether you are the spouse owing or paying support, is to handle such a complex matter without legal representation. One stroke of a pen is all it takes to make things even more complicated.
Keep in mind that if you are the spouse seeking support, you can only make such a claim before the divorce is finalized. And the deadline for filing such a claim is not the only thing you should be concerned about. The legal terminologies and mountains of paperwork are more examples of why you need the right legal representation.
An experienced attorney can help you understand whether you are eligible for spousal support per state laws. They can also help you understand what factors the court will consider when determining the amount of support based on your specific case.
The right spousal support attorney can help you gather and present evidence to support your request for spousal support. This may include financial records, income tax returns, and other relevant documents.
They can also help you negotiate a settlement with your spouse that addresses the issue of spousal support. A settlement can save time, money, and stress by avoiding a court hearing.
However, if the parties cannot agree out of court, your attorney can represent you in court and make arguments on your behalf to support your request for spousal support.
Then there is also the issue of tax consequences. As mentioned earlier, tax laws vary at the state and federal levels. Again, a seasoned attorney can advise you on the tax consequences of spousal support, including the taxability of support payments and the deductibility of support payments.
Lastly, if you wish to modify or enforce a support order, the right lawyer can help.
Divorce With a Plan Can Help
At Divorce With a Plan, we know how complex spousal support cases can be. We also know that you need a plan to obtain the best possible outcome. That is what makes us stand out in the family law field in Maryland. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our Prince George’s County spousal support attorney. We have a plan for every situation.