FAQ: Will I have to pay spousal support?

In Maryland, spouses both have duties to support each other financially. Generally, this duty ends along with the marriage – unless there is an order for spousal support.

This is why, when individuals pursue a divorce, one of the most common worries they have is whether or not they will have to continue financially supporting their ex-spouse even after the marriage ends.

Understanding the legal issues surrounding divorce and spousal support is often the first step to alleviating one’s worries on this subject. And there are two things that spouses must know.

1. Spousal support is not automatic

Spousal support is a complex matter in Maryland, and it is helpful for divorcing spouses to speak with an experienced family law attorney to understand how it works.

However, one critical thing individuals must understand is that spousal support is not automatic in divorce. It is usually only considered in a divorce case if:

  • Spouses establish terms for spousal support in a prenuptial agreement; or
  • One spouse requests it by filing a petition for a court hearing and order before the divorce is final.

Additionally, Maryland courts still only award this request if the spouse asking for support needs financial assistance to support themselves after the divorce.

2. There is no equation to determine spousal support

Another reason that spousal support is complex in Maryland is that, unlike other states, there is no specific formula courts use to determine how much spousal support individuals pay. They consider several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Both spouse’s incomes, financial resources or needs
  • The requesting spouse’s needs to become self-supporting
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living in the marriage
  • Contributions made during the marriage
  • The property division settlement

Therefore, the calculation is unique to each individual’s situation.

Spousal support might not always be a factor in divorce, but these two matters illustrate just how important it is for individuals to understand the details of spousal support before they move forward with their divorce.