INDEFINITE ALIMONY — What do we mean by “unconscionably disparate”?
There are three forms of alimony:
Indefinite alimony used to be called “permanent alimony”, however the Courts believe that indefinite alimony is the proper term to describe that form of alimony. As long as the recipient meets the requirements of indefinite alimony, the recipient will continue to receive indefinite alimony.
This family law article sets forth two ways to receive an award of indefinite alimony. Even after the party seeking alimony has made as much progress toward becoming self supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standard of living of the parties may be unconscionably disparate. The purpose of alimony is not to provide a lifetime pension but, where practicable, to ease the transition for the parties from their married state to their new status as single people living apart and independently. Any indefinite alimony award is named to be exceptional and the burden on the one seeking indefinite alimony is to show that the individual merits such an award.
There is a three step process in making and/or awarding indefinite alimony:
A. The judge is required to project forward in time to the point when the indefinite alimony claimant will have made maximum financial progress and compare the relative standards of living of the parties at that future time.
B. To constitute a disparity, the standards of living must be fundamentally and entirely dissimilar.
C. The claimant must show and the trial judge must find that such disparity is, as a Maryland family law statute states, ” unconscionable.” The claimant has to show that his or hers is a situation in which his or her standard of living was so inferior qualitatively or quantitatively to the standard of living of the party who pays the indefinite alimony as to be morally unacceptable and shocking to the court.
Whether you will receive indefinite alimony will depend directly on the facts that exist at the time you are seeking your divorce and on the application of the above process.
Fred Antenberg is a family law attorney who practices in Howard County and surrounding Maryland counties. You may call him for an appointment at 410 730-4404.