Section 11-106 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code requires the court to consider certain factors in determining the amount and duration of alimony. This next series will take a look at the factors one by one.
Alimony Factor #1. The ability of the party seeking alimony to be partly or wholly self-supporting.
Alimony Before 1980.
Alimony originally was awarded on a permanent basis to a financially dependent spouse who was not at fault for the destruction of the marriage. The thought was that the financially dependent spouse ought to be able to continue with the same standard of living to which that spouse had become accustomed during the marriage, provided the other party could afford it. Alimony could be modified in the event of a change in circumstances but basically lasted until one of the parties died or the party receiving alimony remarried.
The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Relations Report dated January 18, 1980, changed the concept of alimony in Maryland. New alimony laws were adopted at sections 11-106 and 11-107 of the Family Law Article.
The court in Holstein v. Holstein described it like this:
Under the present statute, the principal function of alimony is rehabilitation. 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pension enabling the financially dependent spouse to maintain an accustomed standard of living has largely been superseded by the concept that the economically dependent spouse should be required to become self-supporting, even though that might result in a reduced standard of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 two exceptions when indefinite alimony should be awarded. These will be discussed in my next post.