Alimony Is Not a Lifetime Pension


When Eileen Holston appealed her alimony award of $150 a week for three years, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said that alimony in Maryland used to be for the joint lives of the parties so that the dependent spouse could maintain the same standard of living as when married.  That changed with the enactment of Md.Ann. Code Art. 16, § 1 in 1980, so that the principal function of alimony is now rehabilitation.  The Court said:

“Thus, when awarding alimony, the chancellor is required to consider not only those factors relating to the financial situation, age and health of each party, their standards of living, the duration of marriage and the contribution of each party to its well being but also the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partially self-supporting and the time deemed necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment. It is apparent, therefore, that the concept of  alimony as a lifetime pension enabling the financially dependent spouse to maintain an accustomed standard of living has largely been superseded by the concept that the economically dependent spouse should be required to become self-supporting, even though that might result in a reduced standard of living.”

There are some exceptions, however, and I’ll discuss those next week.