Obtaining a Change to Your Alimony in Maryland to Provide for a Longer Period of Payments

Legal News GavelWhen you go through the legal process of getting a divorce, you almost certainly hope that the final resolution of your divorce case will provide a degree of closure. Sometimes, though, things change or things unfold in a way that you didn’t expect and your needs change. When that happens, the law provides an avenue for you to seek changes to things like alimony. Even when the court originally only gave you alimony for a specific, limited period of time, you may be able to get that changed to indefinite alimony. An experienced Maryland alimony attorney can guide you as you navigate the process of obtaining a modification of your alimony award.

The case in question was one in which the wife was able to obtain indefinite alimony through the modification process. A court in Talbot County granted the couple’s divorce in February 2014. At that time, the judge awarded the wife alimony in the amount of $750 per month, but only for a limited duration. Before the time period elapsed, the wife was back in court, asking for an increase in the amount of her monthly alimony and an extension of the duration of alimony. The wife argued that, during the course of the preceding months, her circumstances had changed. The trial judge accepted the wife’s arguments and modified her alimony. The judge did not increase the monthly amount but changed the award to indefinite alimony.

The husband appealed, but he lost. His argument, which did not win, was that the wife had not experienced a proper change in circumstances. In Maryland, you must have experienced a qualifying change in circumstances in order for a court even to consider granting you an increase in your alimony. There are various ways that you can establish that you have undergone the sort of changed circumstances recognized by Maryland law as allowing a modification. One way is to persuade the court that, without an increase in your alimony, a “harsh and inequitable” outcome would result.

Proving a harsh and inequitable result

Maryland law allows a spouse to establish this “harsh and inequitable” result in a number of ways. This includes showing that your expectations regarding your future income prospects did not materialize as you believed they would at the time of your divorce. In this couple’s case, Patricia had, in the past, been a real estate agent. She expected, at the time of her divorce, to resume her real estate career and earn an annual income in the range of $40,000-50,000. Her employment prospects did not meet those expectations, and her job paid her less than half that amount and provided her with no health coverage benefits. At the hearing, the wife testified that the husband made $8,900 per month, while she made $1,500. This meant, she argued, that allowing her alimony to expire would be exactly the sort of harsh and inequitable result imagined by the law allowing for a modification.

The appeals court concluded that the magistrate had enough evidence to support a finding of a change in circumstances. Even though the wife had been “overly optimistic” in her belief that she’d revive her real estate career and make $40,000 per year or more, that lack of realism was not something that barred her from being entitled to a modification. The wife had tried in good faith to resume that career but had fallen far short in terms of income. This type of change allowed the courts to alter her alimony to indefinite alimony.

If you need an increase in your alimony, there are several very specific things you must prove to the court to obtain a successful outcome. It pays to have knowledgeable counsel representing you. Diligent Maryland alimony attorney Anthony A. Fatemi has been helping spouses with their alimony cases for many years. To find out how this office can assist you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

More blog posts:

When a Settlement Agreement Will (and Won’t) Block a Spouse from Using the Maryland Courts to Obtain a Modification of Alimony, Maryland Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 2, 2017

Modification of Alimony in Maryland and When That Modification Can Apply Retroactively, Maryland Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 17, 2017

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