13 May 2010
The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s award of indefinite alimony for a wife in the amount of $3,000 a month after a 21-year marriage. The court determined that the wife would not be able to maintain her accustomed lifestyle without alimony and that an unconscionable disparity existed and would continue to exist between the parties without this award. The court found that there was no chance that the wife would be able to make more money than she currently does, considering her education level and age, and thus, based on her current income, she was unable of becoming self-sustaining. By comparing the husband’s disposal income to the wife’s, the court found a great disparity, considering the couple’s assets and in light of the wife being the primary caregiver to the couple’s minor child. In light of the deficit faced by the wife, the trial court looked to the AAML guidelines to determine an appropriate alimony award. These guidelines provide a formulaic approach to calculating the amount and duration for alimony awards. The court, however, did not find this to be determinative, and instead used it for informational purposes only to get a general idea of what an appropriate award would be. By taking into consideration other facts such as the savings that has been demonstrated by the couple during the marriage and the sacrifices the wife made both in raising the children and allowing the husband to further his career. The appellate court found that there was nothing wrong with this approach to determining an alimony award. Though the Md. Fam. Law 11-106 statute governing alimony awards does not include some of the factors the court considered in using the AAML guidelines, the court found that the AAML guidelines were reasonable and the approach used in is line with the goals of the Maryland statute.