Articles Posted in Alimony

If you have an alimony obligation and your ex-spouse is seeking to have you held in contempt of court, this is a very serious matter that you should treat accordingly. If a court declares you in contempt, you could be ordered to pay fines or even jailed. This requires serious countermeasures, including retaining the services of an experienced Maryland family law attorney.

P.R. was a Montgomery County husband facing that type of potential legal consequence. He and his wife divorced in May 2017. Three months prior, the spouses signed a marital settlement agreement that called for the husband to pay the wife non-modifiable alimony for a period of 10 years.

In 2020, the spouses became embroiled in a dispute over $6,350 in court-ordered attorney’s fees that the wife owed the husband. The husband took that $6,350 out of his alimony payments over a period of nine months.

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Unpaid alimony matters are intensely fact-driven, meaning that your case can be much more successful if your judge has all the facts and is presented with all the circumstances regarding your ex-spouse’s non-compliance. If your ex-spouse isn’t living up to their alimony obligations, you can (and should) seek relief from the courts. And you should act promptly in contacting a knowledgeable Maryland unpaid alimony lawyer about protecting your rights.

The alimony case of F.S. and S.M. was a dispute that involved a large sum of unpaid alimony. The spouses, who divorced after 30 years of marriage, worked out a property settlement agreement that included an alimony provision. The agreement set the initial alimony amount at $1,500 but said that, if the wife no longer lived in the marital home, the amount of alimony was $3,250 per month.

The wife moved out in September 2016.

In December 2019, the wife asked the court to find the husband in contempt because he had not paid his alimony. Before the trial judge, the husband argued that he never agreed to anything regarding alimony in the separation agreement. After the hearing, the court concluded that the husband was in contempt, having never paid any alimony. The court set the husband’s unpaid alimony amount at $130,750.

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One of the more painful experiences a spouse can endure is to devote years — or even decades — to a marriage only to discover that your spouse has not been as faithful to you as you’ve been to them. While heartbreaking and sometimes infuriating, your spouse’s infidelity won’t always have much of an impact on the outcome of your divorce… but sometimes it will affect that outcome in a major way. To determine your rights and options if your spouse has been cheating, you need to speak to a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer.

Maryland is one of the states that recognizes both no-fault divorce and at-fault divorce. One of the grounds for absolute divorce under Maryland law is adultery. Even in a case of a divorce on the ground of adultery, that affair may not “move the needle” much in terms of the financial aspects of the court’s judgment. So, if an adulterous spouse is someone who earns only minimal income with few economic opportunities and little chance of becoming self-supporting and the “innocent” spouse has substantial wealth and income, the adulterous spouse may still be entitled to alimony and/or a monetary award, even if the infidelity was the reasons for the marriage’s breakdown.

There’s one scenario, however, where a spouse’s extramarital affair(s) can have a huge impact on those financial elements of divorce, and that circumstance was illustrated in a recent divorce case originating here in Montgomery County.

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In some states — like Florida, for example — permanent (a/k/a indefinite) alimony is the default for marriages of a certain duration. By contrast, a spouse seeking indefinite alimony in Maryland must prove certain factors unrelated to the duration of the marriage to obtain that kind of award from the court. Those standards can be enormously helpful if you’re opposing your spouse’s request for indefinite alimony, but you should never take anything for granted in your divorce case. Instead, ensure that you’re protected by retaining an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer to handle your alimony matter.

In Maryland, a trial court may award a divorcing spouse indefinite alimony only if the judge finds that “due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting” or that, even after the spouse seeking alimony made the maximum amount of progress toward becoming self-supporting “as can reasonably be expected,” the spouses’ “respective standards of living… will be unconscionably disparate.”

In one Montgomery County couple’s alimony dispute, the husband emerged successful because the wife failed to clear either of these hurdles.

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In a very recent case opinion announced by the Court of Special Appeals, the court wrote that “[s]ometimes one misstep early in a case can have repercussion for the rest of the case.” Those kinds of damaging missteps can include, among other things, failing to comply with all the pretrial deadlines the trial court sets. Whether it is managing deadlines, accumulating evidence, securing expert witnesses, or tending to any of the other essential “details” that go into a successful family law case, make sure you’ve retained the services of an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer to handle your matter.

These things may sound small, but a shortcoming — even just a single one — potentially can have massively harmful results, as a recent Montgomery County case demonstrates.

R.Z. and D.Z. were parents going through a child custody case. In any kind of civil case in Maryland, all parties will receive something called a “scheduling order.” This is an order that sets various dates and deadlines, like the trial date, pre-trial conference date, discovery deadlines, and so forth. One of the things generally included in these kinds of orders is the deadline for parties to designate their expert witnesses.

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The pandemic did vast damage to many businesses, particularly ones in the service industry, like restaurants. Whatever industry you’re in, a significant downturn in your financial situation is inevitably painful. One thing that may be available to reduce some of that financial stress is a reduction of your alimony obligation based on your pandemic-triggered income loss. The law imposes certain requirements on any parent’s case to reduce his/her alimony, so you want to be sure that you’re fully prepared. Part of that includes retaining the services of a knowledgeable Maryland alimony lawyer.

Don’t be misled into thinking that the financial setback you’ve endured must be totally the result of things out of your control in order to get a reduction of your alimony payment. A recent alimony modification case from Montgomery County shows what we mean.

The husband was one of the creators of a chain of restaurants serving Mediterranean cuisine. By the time the husband divorced, the restaurant chain had locations in several states.

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Divorce is a big transition in the lives of many people. So is retirement. A significant number of people entering retirement have to deal with divorce-related financial obligations, including alimony. Whether you are the spouse who’s receiving alimony or the spouse who’s retiring, a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer can help you best protect yourself and your financial needs.

K.R. was one of these retiring Marylanders. He and his wife divorced in 2014 after 39 years of marriage. The spouses worked out a property settlement agreement. With regard to alimony, the agreement said that the husband would pay the wife $10,000 per month. It also said that the alimony obligation would reduce to “36.36% of the husband’s earned income” starting in 2019… unless the alimony obligation was “otherwise terminated or modified by a court.”

In 2020, the husband went back to court to extinguish his alimony obligation. He argued in his motion that he’d retired due to the COVID-19 pandemic and no longer earned any income. The court concluded that, although the husband had no income, he had over $1 million in assets, and refused to terminate alimony, but did reduce the sum from $10,000 per month to $4,000 per month.

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Late last year, Washingtonian covered a trend regarding alimony that’s on the rise in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia: divorces where higher-earning wives leave owing alimony to their husbands. The piece is a useful reminder that anyone (husband or wife) can potentially be ordered to pay alimony in Maryland and that ways (such as prenuptial agreements) exist to help avoid part or all of the horror of an unexpectedly unfavorable divorce judgment. Whether you’re negotiating a prenup or litigating alimony, make sure you have a knowledgeable Maryland family law lawyer on your side to fight for a fair outcome.

Many of the ex-wives in the Washingtonian piece expressed deep anger and resentment about paying alimony to ex-husbands who they viewed as insufficiently industrious. One wife described her husband as someone whom she “begged” to find a job, always without success. Another expressed resentment about owing alimony from a marriage where she allegedly earned the bulk of the family’s income and also bore the lion’s share of responsibility for domestic tasks.

One wife complained, “It’s not just as simple as saying, ‘Because men pay it, women should pay it, too.'”

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Sometimes, it may seem easy to think that you can proceed with your divorce case without legal representation. You have documents supporting your arguments and your issues are straightforward, so an attorney isn’t necessary, right? Having convinced yourself, you show up to a hearing, an arbitration, or a mediation. Then, oftentimes, bad things happen. An unfavorable divorce-related ruling can be extremely damaging, either personally, financially, or both, so make sure you have a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer on your side throughout your divorce case to protect your interests.

As an example, there’s this alimony case from Baltimore County. The husband was a highly-compensated anesthesiologist making more than $27,000 per month and his wife was a community college professor who made a little more than $7,000 per month. In the summer of 2020, the court convened a remote status conference. Shortly after that, the wife’s attorney contacted a retired judge about mediating the alimony dispute between his client and her husband.

The husband inquired from the retired judge whether the mediation was private or court-ordered and was told the court ordered it. At the time of the mediation, the husband was in the hospital, one day removed from a medical procedure that required local anesthesia. Nevertheless, he didn’t obtain an attorney.

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When you decide to enter into a prenuptial agreement or a marital settlement agreement, there are several critical phases. There’s the phase where you and the other party negotiate the terms of the agreement, and you work to ensure that all the terms adequately protect your interests. There’s also the phase where you and the other party execute the agreement, and you work to ensure that the document you sign matches the bargain you struck during the negotiation phase. Finally, there may be a phase where you have to litigate to enforce the agreement and get the benefit of the contract you signed. At each of these phases, your chances of getting the fairest possible outcome can be enhanced by having legal representation from an experienced Maryland spousal support (alimony) lawyer.

That’s because, at any phase, things can go astray from what you wanted… and executed.

For example, there’s the alimony case of X.L. and H.L., a couple who, in March 2016, worked out a prenuptial agreement. In that document, both spouses agreed to waive the right to receive alimony in the event of separation or divorce. They married one month later.

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