Adultery and the impact on alimony in Maryland Courts?

ALIMONY is defined as the money that one spouse pays to the other during and/or after a divorce.  The purpose of alimony is to ensure that one party is not impoverished solely because of the divorce and to try to maintain the parties’ standard of living similar to when they were married.

Different types of alimony in Maryland

  • Alimony Pendente Lite supports one spouse temporarily while the divorce is still pending.  No final order is issued.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony supports one spouse for a limited time with the intent to provided the support necessary to complete the training or education necessary for that spouse to become fully employed and self-supporting.
  • Indefinite Alimony supports one spouse after a long-term marriage when it appears that the supported spouse isn’t likely to become self-supporting.

ADULTERY is one of the possible grounds for absolute divorce, and it’s defined as a married person having sexual relations with someone outside of the marriage. If your spouse committed adultery, you can go to court and prove that fact to a judge, who will in turn grant your divorce on the basis of adultery.

To prove adultery, you do not need to show actual intercourse. You must prove that the offender had the disposition and opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage.

  • Examples of an adulterous “disposition”: Public displays of affection, such as hand-holding, kissing, and hugging, between the guilty spouse and the non-spouse.
  • Example of an adulterous “opportunity”: Proving that your spouse was seen entering the non-spouse’s apartment alone at 11 p.m. and not coming out until 8 a.m. the following morning.

How Does Adultery Affect Alimony Awards in Maryland?

In Maryland, even though the divorce court may already have found that your spouse committed adultery and granted you a divorce for that reason, this does not mean you will automatically get or not get alimony from your spouse.  The Judge may or may not choose to consider the adultery when determining alimony, but the judge can’t say that your spouse is barred or prohibited from seeking alimony because of adulterous behavior, nor can he or she say that you ought to get alimony if your spouse committed adultery.

Maryland courts are required to apply the normal statutory requirements to all alimony cases, even when there’s been adultery, to determine the amount and duration of alimony to be paid (if any). To decide whether to award alimony, judges have to “consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award,” including:

  • the ability of the spouse seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
  • the time necessary for the supported spouse to gain sufficient education or training to enable that spouse to find suitable employment
  • the standard of living that the spouses established during their marriage
  • the duration of the marriage
  • the contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each spouse to the well-being of the family
  • the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the spouses (can consider adultery)
  • the age of each spouse
  • the physical and mental condition of each spouse
  • the ability of the paying spouse to meet his or her own needs while also meeting the needs of the supported spouse
  • any agreement (for instance, a prenuptial agreement) between the spouses, and
  • the financial needs and financial resources of each spouse.

To calculate the amount of support, the court may look at both spouse’s incomes, standards of living, and monthly expenses. It may also look at each spouse’s investment and retirement opportunities as well as other factors.  If you have more questions about this issue, you should contact the Law Offices of Kerri Cohen, LLC and we can assist you.