Alimony and the Use of Guidelines and Calculators
Various alimony guidelines have been developed around the country. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has developed a guideline that uses incomes and length of marriage to calculate the starting point for determining alimony. The Kaufman guidelines, developed by a Michigan divorce attorney and initially published locally by the Montgomery County Commission for Women, use income, length of marriage, education, income potential and child custody to generate a recommended amount and duration of alimony. Last year, the Maryland Court of Appeals approved a trial judge’s reference to the AAML alimony guidelines for informational purposes in Boemio v Boemio, 414 Md. 118, 994 A.2d 911 (2010) .
In Virginia, the Fairfax County Circuit Court has by rule adopted guidelines for pendente lite alimony determinations. It is commonly understood that those guidelines have some influence on final alimony settlements and determinations.
There may someday be statutory alimony guidelines in each state the way there are now statutory child support guidelines but it is not likely to be anytime soon. The driving force behind the universal adoption of statutory child support guidelines was the federal interest in making child support more predictable and more collectible across state lines. It does not appear there is any similar overriding federal concern with alimony. So divorcing spouses and divorce lawyers will continue to settle alimony cases based on all the circumstances with non-statutory guidelines playing an increasingly important role in negotiations. Those cases that do not settle will be tried before judges who may or may not consider the various guidelines in deciding the cases.