Rehabilitative Alimony: Defined

Rehabilitative Alimony: Defined

There are three different types of alimony in Maryland. Those three types are: Pendente-lite alimony (or temporary alimony), Rehabilitative alimony, and Indefinite alimony. In this article I will discuss “Rehabilitative Alimony”.

Generally

The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide support to the dependent spouse for a period of time the court deems necessary for him/her to become self supporting. That is the legal definition of rehabilitative alimony in Maryland but, like so many other vague legal definitions it lacks specific parameters.

When a judge orders rehabilitative alimony he/she decides both the amount of the alimony and the duration of the alimony at the same time. Both rehabilitative and indefinite alimony can only be ordered as part of the final divorce. Therefore, they will not take effect until the date of the divorce.

The Duration of Rehabilitative Alimony

The duration of pendente-lite alimony is limited to the pendency or duration of the divorce case. Indefinite alimony is indefinite in duration. In contrast, rehabilitative alimony has no defined period of duration.

In the practical world of Maryland Family Court rehabilitative alimony is generally contingent upon an event. The event (whatever it is) bears a relationship toward the dependent spouse’s becoming self supporting. Nevertheless, the duration of the alimony is specifically set forth by the judge in months or years.

The duration of rehabilitative alimony is seldom defined in “soft terms” such as: “Husband shall pay X dollars to Wife until her small business becomes profitable.” Some classic examples of rehabilitative alimony duration would be: 4 years to obtain a college degree…the date when the youngest child might turn 18… or perhaps a financial event such as the predicted date that the parties home will sell and they divide those proceeds. Mind you that was more common in the dark ages when homes actually had equity.

Factors the Court Will Consider in Determining Rehabilitative Alimony

I have described above that rehabilitative alimony is not for any defined period and it is subjective to the judge’s determination of when the dependent spouse becomes self supporting. The amount of rehabilitative alimony is even more subjective.

The criteria that the judge must consider in crafting the amount of rehabilitative alimony are what Maryland lawyers refer to generally as “equitable” factors. Please note that equitable is not defined as “equal.” Equitable is defined as ”what is fair under the circumstances.” Obviously therefore, what is equitable can be a very subjective.  As I have often been told: “one man’s chicken, is another man’s foul.”

The Maryland Family Law Code mandates that when a judge makes a rehabilitative alimony decision he/she is required to consider those equitable factors enumerated at Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Volume Section 11-106(b).

FAMILY LAW

TITLE 11. ALIMONY

Md. FAMILY LAW Code Ann. § 11-106 (2012)

§ 11-106. Award — Determination of amount and duration

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

(b) Required considerations. — In making the determination, the court shall consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including:

(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;

(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;

(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;

(4) the duration of the marriage;

(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(7) the age of each party;

(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;

(10) any agreement between the parties;

(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:

(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;

(ii) any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12) whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health – General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

One may note that only ONE of the foregoing factors was specifically the financial juxtaposition of the parties.  Many of the rehabilitative alimony factors, described above, are equitable and subjective in nature.  This stands in stark contrast to pendente-lite alimony where need and ability to pay were the preeminent considerations.

Here, in the rehabilitative alimony arena, we finally see what I call the “hollywood factors.”  Those include the well publicized notion of “The standard of living the parties established during their marriage” and “circumstances contributing to the estrangement of the parties.”

The non-financial factors can often have an unpredictable effect upon the judge’s decision.  Take for example factor number 11-106(b)(5) contributions to the household…  It might influence a judge in the direction of an alimony award if husband’s financial contributions were significant, thereby evidencing an ability to pay?

Then again, the judge might believe that those significant  financial contributions enure to the benefit of the dependent spouse as equal equity despite disproportionate contributions by that financially dominant spouse?  In such a case, the same scenario might weigh against an alimony award.

Age might persuade a judge of the propriety of alimony if the dependent spouse is at an age unlikely to obtain significant employment?  Then again, the judge may consider that a person of such age, being near to retirement, will enjoy a share of the retirement assets and thereby have little need for alimony?  Thus, we see the caprice and potential folly of “equity.”

Rehabilitative Alimony: Defined

There are three different types of alimony in Maryland. Those three types are: Pendente-lite alimony (or temporary alimony), Rehabilitative alimony, and Indefinite alimony. In this article I will discuss “Rehabilitative Alimony.

Generally

The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide support to the dependent spouse for a period of time the court deems necessary for him/her to become self supporting. That is the legal definition of rehabilitative alimony in Maryland but, like so many other vague legal definitions it lacks specific parameters.

When a judge orders rehabilitative alimony he/she decides both the amount of the alimony and the duration of the alimony at the same time. Both rehabilitative and indefinite alimony can only be ordered as part of the final divorce. Therefore, they will not take effect until the date of the divorce.

The Duration of Rehabilitative Alimony

The duration of pendente-lite alimony is limited to the pendency or duration of the divorce case. Indefinite alimony is indefinite in duration. In contrast, rehabilitative alimony has no defined period of duration.

In the practical world of Maryland Family Court rehabilitative alimony is generally contingent upon an event. The event (whatever it is) bears a relationship toward the dependent spouse’s becoming self supporting. Nevertheless, the duration of the alimony is specifically set forth by the judge in months or years.

The duration of rehabilitative alimony is seldom defined in “soft terms” such as: “Husband shall pay X dollars to Wife until her small business becomes profitable.” Some classic examples of rehabilitative alimony duration would be: 4 years to obtain a college degree…the date when the youngest child might turn 18… or perhaps a financial event such as the predicted date that the parties home will sell and they divide those proceeds. Mind you that was more common in the dark ages when homes actually had equity.

Factors the Court Will Consider in Determining Rehabilitative Alimony

I have described above that rehabilitative alimony is not for any defined period and it is subjective to the judge’s determination of when the dependent spouse becomes self supporting. The amount of rehabilitative alimony is even more subjective.

The criteria that the judge must consider in crafting the amount of rehabilitative alimony are what Maryland lawyers refer to generally as “equitable” factors. Please note that equitable is not defined as “equal.” Equitable is defined as ”what is fair under the circumstances.” Obviously therefore, what is equitable can be a very subjective.  As I have often been told: “one man’s chicken, is another man’s foul.”

The Maryland Family Law Code mandates that when a judge makes a rehabilitative alimony decision he/she is required to consider those equitable factors enumerated at Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Volume Section 11-106(b).

FAMILY LAW

TITLE 11. ALIMONY

Md. FAMILY LAW Code Ann. § 11-106 (2012)

§ 11-106. Award — Determination of amount and duration

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

(b) Required considerations. — In making the determination, the court shall consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including:

(1) the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;

(2) the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;

(3) the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;

(4) the duration of the marriage;

(5) the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(6) the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(7) the age of each party;

(8) the physical and mental condition of each party;

(9) the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;

(10) any agreement between the parties;

(11) the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:

(i) all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;

(ii) any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii) the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv) the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12) whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health – General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

One may note that only ONE of the foregoing factors was specifically the financial juxtaposition of the parties.  Many of the rehabilitative alimony factors, described above, are equitable and subjective in nature.  This stands in stark contrast to pendente-lite alimony where need and ability to pay were the preeminent considerations.

Here, in the rehabilitative alimony arena, we finally see what I call the “hollywood factors.”  Those include the well publicized notion of “The standard of living the parties established during their marriage” and “circumstances contributing to the estrangement of the parties.”

The non-financial factors can often have an unpredictable effect upon the judge’s decision.  Take for example factor number 11-106(b)(5) contributions to the household…  It might influence a judge in the direction of an alimony award if husband’s financial contributions were significant, thereby evidencing an ability to pay?

Then again, the judge might believe that those significant  financial contributions enure to the benefit of the dependent spouse as equal equity despite disproportionate contributions by that financially dominant spouse?  In such a case, the same scenario might weigh against an alimony award.

Age might persuade a judge of the propriety of alimony if the dependent spouse is at an age unlikely to obtain significant employment?  Then again, the judge may consider that a person of such age, being near to retirement, will enjoy a share of the retirement assets and thereby have little need for alimony?  Thus, we see the caprice and potential folly of “equity.”

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Divorce Law

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Frederick Maryland
21701

240 575-9298