In general, there are four types of alimony:

  • Temporary Alimony: Support ordered when the parties are separated prior to divorce. Also called alimony pendente lite which is Latin meaning “pending the suit”.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: Support given to a lesser earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work outside the home and become self sufficient.
  • Permanent Alimony: Support paid to the lesser earning spouse until the death of the payor, the death of the recipient, or the remarriage of the recipient.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: Support given as a reimbursement for expenses incurred by a spouse during the marriage (like educational expenses).

Alimony is considered a controversial area of the law due to the lack of a convincing legal theory as to why a spouse should continue to support a former spouse after the marriage has ended.  The fairness of permanent alimony in America has been questioned and the rise of an alimony reform movement has been documented in several recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, ABC News,and the Huffington Post and on National Public Radio. Alimony is considered one of the greatest sources of litigation in family law cases. Eighty percent of divorce cases involve a request for modification of alimony. The unpredictability of alimony awards makes settlement of this issue difficult. Divorce law in the U.S. was based on English Common Law, at a time when a woman gave up her personal property rights on marriage. Upon separation from marriage, the husband retained the right to the wife’s property, but, in exchange, had an ongoing responsibility to support the wife after dissolution of the marriage.  Alimony continued after Married Women’s Property Acts (1848), permitted divorced women to regain the property they owned before marriage, and disputed the notion that the support after divorce should not be necessary.

About Maryland Family Law
General information and commentary on child custody, support, divorce, separation, Pre Nuptial, Post Nuptial agreements and child visitation

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