Gaithersburg, MD asked in Divorce and Family Law for Maryland

Q: If both wife support and alimony specified in a divorce agreement, which one takes effect?

An agreement has "wife support" section stating a monthly payment to wife while in the same agreement document, the "alimony" section says alimony is waived. Based on the document flow, the alimony section comes after wife support section will override the wife support section right? if not, since wife support means alimony, then the agreement is in contradiction itself. How is that possible? If you say wife support takes effect, then why alimony section doesn't take effect? what's the rule on that?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You will need to take your agreement to a lawyer to review. It is not possible to construe the terms based on your summary description. There can be support and maintenance payments by agreement that are not treated as alimony. Alimony has a distinct meaning and set of legal rules that apply to it, including the manner and extent it may be modified or terminated in the future. Other types of agreed payments would not be governed by those laws and rules. Separation and property settlement agreements are construed like other contracts, and a common rule of construction is to give force and effect to every provision so as not to effect a complete forfeiture of some term or benefit agreed to elsewhere. Contradictory provisions will therefore be construed, to the extent possible, to harmonize the two provisions and give effect to both if reasonably possible.

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