How Do Re-marriage and Cohabitation Affect Alimony in Maryland?

How Do Re-marriage and Cohabitation Affect Alimony in Maryland?Sometimes people are eager to get through the divorce process quickly, because they have already found another romantic partner, and are ready to move forward with the relationship. However, if one person is awarded alimony, either during the divorce proceedings or for a set (or indefinite) time after the divorce is final, he or she will likely lose that award if he or she remarries.

Spousal support in Maryland

Alimony, or spousal support, is not guaranteed in Maryland divorces, and it is granted by the court in its discretion. While the court does not follow a strict checklist of criteria, Maryland law does contain about a dozen factors that the court may consider when deciding if, and for how long, alimony would be appropriate. Some of those factors include:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age, physical and mental state of both parties;
  • The ability of the party who is seeking alimony to support himself/herself financially;
  • The contributions of both parties–monetary and nonmonetary–to the well-being of the family; and
  • Any previous agreement between the parties.

(For a complete list, please see MD Fam L Code § 11-106 (2016))

Automatic termination of alimony

In Maryland, spousal support will automatically terminate under the following conditions, unless otherwise stated in the divorce agreement:

  • The death of either party;
  • Marriage of the spouse receiving alimony; and
  • If the court finds that termination of alimony is necessary to avoid a harsh and inequitable result.

(MD Fam L. Code §11-108 (2016))

Modification of alimony due to cohabitation

If the party receiving alimony begins cohabitating with a new partner, this does not automatically terminate spousal support. The obligor (party paying alimony) would be required to file a request with the court to examine the receiving spouse’s financial circumstances to determine if it would be appropriate to modify the existing alimony payments. It is not enough to show that the receiving spouse is living with another partner, but the paying spouse must convince the judge that terminating the alimony payments is necessary to avoid a “harsh and inequitable result.”

Spousal support in Maryland is a complicated topic, and each case will have different circumstances. Working with an experienced Annapolis divorce lawyer from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC will give you access to sound legal counsel and a strong advocate for your position when you are going through a divorce.

At Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, we are here to protect our clients’ rights as they move through the divorce process and build a new future. We invite you to contact us or call us at 410.921.2422 to discuss your case now with an experienced Annapolis divorce lawyer.