Legal Memorandum for Alimony in Maryland

by Marilyn Lindblad

The purpose of a legal memorandum is to explain to the judge what the law is and persuade him to interpret the law the way you think it should be interpreted. In Maryland, a legal memorandum is also known as a "brief." A legal memorandum for alimony in Maryland represents your opportunity to tell a judge why you believe you should receive alimony, also called "spousal support," under Maryland law, and how much alimony the judge should order.

Type of Alimony

The legal memorandum begins by explaining what type of alimony the petitioner seeks. A judge can order payment of "pendente lite" alimony, which is a temporary award of spousal support while a divorce case is pending. Rehabilitative alimony is an award of spousal support that helps the recipient achieve a particularized goal, such as finishing a degree. Indefinite alimony is an award of spousal support that helps balance income between two parties when one of them cannot support himself because of age, illness or disability.

Facts of the Case

A legal memorandum also explains relevant information to the judge about the case at hand. It explains how long the husband and wife have been married, what each of them does for a living and how much each of them earns. It explains how much education each individual has completed, whether they have had children and, if so, how old the children are. The judge uses the facts of each case to determine whether alimony should be awarded, in what amount and for how long.

Factors for Awarding Alimony

Judges consider various factors when deciding whether to order alimony in a case. Some of the factors for consideration include the standard of living the parties enjoyed while they were together and the circumstances that contributed to their growing apart. Other factors include each party's age, physical condition and mental condition. For each factor, the legal memorandum for an individual who wants to receive alimony explains why that factor supports an award of alimony to the recipient.

Case Law

A legal memorandum for alimony also includes a discussion of relevant case law in Maryland. Alimony cases that other Maryland judges have already ruled on can help a judge decide what to do in a new case. Moreover, judges are required to follow guidelines set out by the Maryland Court of Appeals or Maryland Supreme Court in cases those courts have reviewed. For example, if in a prior case a doctor's spouse received indefinite alimony after a marriage that lasted 30 years, another doctor's spouse who has been married for 30 years should cite that case in the legal memorandum to persuade the judge to award indefinite alimony in the case at hand.

Submitting a Memorandum

If you and your spouse agree that your spouse should pay you alimony, and you also agree on the amount and duration of the alimony you should receive, the judge must take your agreement into consideration when awarding alimony. In that case, you may not need to submit a legal memorandum. If you and your spouse cannot agree on whether you should receive alimony, the courts consider your divorce a "contested matter." The Maryland state courts recommend that you retain a lawyer to represent you in a contested matter. A lawyer would then prepare and submit the legal memorandum in support of your motion to receive alimony.