Legal Blog

How Long Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

When a couple gets divorced, one party may need to financially support the other party in some shape or form; this divorce-specific monetary support is referred to as alimony. When a client learns that they may be required to pay alimony, they understandably want to know how long they’ll have to make those payments.

In order to answer this question, it’s important to first understand that there are three types of alimony in Maryland: pendente lite, indefinite and rehabilitative. The type of alimony a party will be required to pay is discretionary to the judge.

Pendente lite alimony is fairly straightforward.  Pendente Lite is Latin for pending litigation, and these are payments that a higher-earning party pays to the lower-earning party during the divorce proceedings only. The payments are meant to maintain the family finances at, or as close to, status quo as possible during the legal process of divorce.

The definition of indefinite alimony is exactly as it sounds: alimony that has no specific end date. Indefinite alimony is ordered when a dependent party is unlikely to ever become self-supporting. This type of alimony is typically established in cases of long marriages where one spouse did not work outside the home for many years, or when one party is unlikely to acquire a self-supporting income due to age, illness or disability. Indefinite alimony ends if one of the parties dies, or the dependent party remarries.  Indefinite alimony may end upon modification of the court or a written agreement between the parties.

Rehabilitative alimony is meant to provide support to the lower-earning party for a period of time long enough for him or her to become self-supporting. This is the most common type of alimony awarded, and it usually has an end date. In most cases, this means that the higher-earning party will support the lower-earning party while that person takes the time to acquire the necessary job training or education needed for employment. In some cases, the higher-earning party may need to pay for the lower-earning party’s education to help them become self-supporting.

As mentioned, the type of alimony one pays is solely up to the judge; however, if the parties prefer to negotiate alimony amongst themselves, they may come to an agreement as to the terms, but the judge will still have to approve it to ensure that the agreement is fair to both parties.

If you have any questions on this topic, please contact Sandra Brooks at or 240.507.1716.


professional headshot of principal attorney, Sandra Brooks | 240.507.1716

As a family law attorney, Sandra (Sandy) Brooks’ practice focuses on a wide range of aspects in regards to family law. She dedicates her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits. Other matters that fall under her jurisdiction as a family law attorney include tax consequences of divorce, mediation, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, negotiating and drafting of separation agreements, domestic litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.








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