Two Exceptions for Permanent Alimony


In the Holston case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals explained the general rule that alimony is for the purpose of helping a dependent spouse become self supporting so it should be for a limited time and not permanent in most cases.  But there are some circumstances when that may be impractical or unfair.  The exceptions are in Article 16, § 1(c)(1) of the Maryland Code, which provides:

The court may award alimony for an indefinite period when it finds as a fact that:

(i) the party seeking alimony, by reason of age, illness, infirmity, or disability, cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or

(ii) Even after the receiving party will have made as much progress toward self-support as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the two parties will be unconscionably disparate.

The Court of Appeals found from the evidence that the trial court’s award of alimony for three years would have left Mrs. Holston with a standard of living greatly below that enjoyed during the marriage and unconscionably disparate from the standard of living available to Dr. Holston.  Therefore the judges remanded the case to the lower court with instructions to grant Mrs. Holston permanent alimony.

Holston v. Holston, 58 Md. App. 308; 473 A.2d 459 (1984),  Cert. Denied (1984).