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What are the purposes of alimony?

When Maryland couples divorce, one party may be able to receive spousal support. This is especially true if one spouse worked while the other stayed home to raise a family. Alimony may also be awarded if both spouses worked, but one earned significantly more than the other. There are two main types of alimony: rehabilitative and reimbursement. This post will discuss these alimony types and when they are awarded.

Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of spousal support. It is given only as long as needed - which could mean just a few months or several years. It gives the recipient time to attend school and look for gainful employment. When the recipient spouse becomes able to support himself or herself, then the alimony payments can end. The court will review the person's finances from time to time to see if any adjustments are needed.

Reimbursement alimony is awarded if one spouse incurs expenses for the other spouse's endeavors during marriage. For example, one spouse may have paid for the other to attend school. As the name implies, this is a form of temporary alimony which ends once the amount is reimbursed.

There is another type of alimony that might be awarded. Permanent alimony is given only in certain situations, such as when the couple was married for a very long time or if one spouse is terminally ill. This spousal support lasts until the recipient remarries or dies.

While a divorce does not always make everything financially equal, alimony can help narrow the gap. Whether alimony is awarded, for how much and for how long, will depend on each couple's unique situation.

Source: FindLaw, "The FindLaw Guide to Spousal Support," accessed Feb. 8, 2015

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