Legal Blog

Understanding the Different Types of Alimony

divorce-moneyA potentially contentious issue in divorce is alimony, or money that the economically independent spouse may pay to the economically dependent spouse. Its function is to enable the recipient to become self-supporting. Alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal support, may be awarded by a court after a hearing, or it can be agreed upon between parties. Whether alimony is awarded at all, how much, and for what duration is determined after a review and consideration of a number of statutory factors.


Types of alimony

The two types of alimony available to the court are rehabilitative alimony and indefinite alimony.

  • Rehabilitative Alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is money awarded for a finite period of time to enable the recipient to become self-supporting. For example, a spouse leaves the workforce because of the birth of a child. In the interim, a professional certification expires or job skills lapse. Rehabilitative alimony would be paid for some specific period of time to enable the recipient to go back to school or for training to make him/herself marketable again.
  • Indefinite Alimony.  Indefinite alimony has no specified end date for termination of support. Indefinite alimony is paid when, even after the recipient has gone as far as he/she can go economically, there still exists an unconscionable disparity in the standard of living of the parties. For example, a spouse, who has been a homemaker for 30 years and is married to a spouse who has progressed in the work place for 30 years earning a significant income, may be a candidate for indefinite alimony. In this situation, it is unlikely that the homemaker will have the skills to compete economically with the economically-advanced spouse. Even if the homemaker has skills, they may not be marketable, and even if they are, the disparity in the standard of living will likely be disparate.


Alimony Modifications

Keep in mind, alimony arrangements may be modified in light of changing circumstances. For example, alimony that has a fixed length of time can be extended or changed to an indefinite period of time. However, a court cannot modify an alimony award if an agreement is already in place that explicitly states that alimony is not subject to court modification.

In all aspects of the divorce, including alimony, it’s important that you benefit from the advocacy of an expert divorce attorney.  Alimony can be a bitter and contentious issue, but with the representation of an experienced litigation firm, you will find that reasonable arrangements can be made. Feel free to contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at or telephone (301) 575-0381 to discuss your divorce and any concerns you have about alimony.


Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.



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