The two Guideline tools readily available are those produced by the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys (AAML) and what is commonly referred to as the Kaufman Guidelines. Neither of these guidelines carries any weight in the Maryland divorce cases; however, I have seen more reliance upon them in the last few years by attorneys and mediators. The question is how much reliance should professionals place on these Guidelines?
In September of this year, the state of Massachusetts passed alimony reform. The significant change in that state law is the “sunset provision,” which put term limits on how long alimony can last.
There are several categories of alimony-
“Rehabilitative” – limited to five years but can be extended for “compelling circumstances
“Reimbursement” – for marriages of five years or less and is not modifiable
“Transitional” – also for marriages of five years or less, and limited to three years
“General Term” – for the ex-spouse that is “economically dependent”
As stated in Maryland Divorce and Separation Law, there are eleven statutory factors that Trial Judges must consider when awarding alimony, including the ability to be self-supporting, the time needed to educate or train, the standard of living that the parties established during the marriage, and the duration of the marriage. This is the reason why most divorce attorneys refer to court-ordered alimony as a “crap shoot.”
The Kaufman Guidelines require approximately five minutes to complete. Consideration is given for the age of the Claimant (receiving spouse), length of marriage, ages of children born of the marriage, and respective incomes. The AAML Guidelines take even less time as all that is required are the spouse’s respective incomes and years married.
Faggio Financial has compiled a comparison of the term limits of the Massachusetts Law and the Guidelines referred to above in its Alimony Guideline Comparison White Paper. Seeing as these Guidelines can affect the financial future of the entire family, the results of the comparison are extremely important to divorce practitioners. In many cases, the difference in alimony term (years to be paid) recommended could have a 50% swing in either direction.
Faggio Financial LLC is Central Maryland’s only exclusive divorce financial planning practice. Email or call John today at 410-988-7333 for an initial consult regarding your alimony or property settlement issues.