For too often, alimony is viewed by many in Bethesda as being a form of financial punishment. The assumption often is that if you were the primary income earner in your marital home, you should be obligated to continue to support your ex-spouse even after your marriage has ended. Alimony is meant to be punitive, but rather to provide your ex-spouse with the financial assistance needed to sustain the same quality of life that you both enjoyed while married from the time of your separation until such time as they can afford such a lifestyle on their own.
Indeed, Section 11-108 of the Code of Maryland reaffirms this, stating than an alimony obligation ends when your ex-spouse remarries or when the obligation produces a harsh and inequitable result. Your ex-spouse may think that they can get around this even after they have entered into a serious relationship with a new partner. By choosing to cohabitate and not remarry, they may believe that they can enjoy the best of both worlds: the financial support of a new partner as well as the alimony income they receive from you.
Does the law allow for this? Typically, your ex-spouse entering into a supportive relationship yet continuing to insist on the need for alimony can be viewed as producing an inequitable result in your case (one that leaves you financially disadvantaged). The burden of proving this falls to you. Elements that can support your claim of them being in a supportive relationship with a new partner may include:
- The extent to which they present themselves as a married couple
- Whether or not they have comingled their assets
- If they have engaged in significant financial transactions together
If the court believes that a supportive relationship does exist, it may indeed terminate your alimony obligation.