Alimony is payments made to the spouse in need in order for that spouse to become self-supporting. It is generally either rehabilitative or permanent. It is not guaranteed in Maryland, but should be requested.
Rehabilitiative alimony is for set period of time or a set amount. It is what is needed to become self-supporting in the person's post marital life. It usually takes into account the length of time needed to become get training or education to become self-support and/or re-enter the workforce after a period of time away. It ends when the period set by the court determines.
Permanent alimony is alimony that continues until either one party dies, or the receiving party remarries (sometimes is cohabitating with a significant other). This is only ordered when the person will either never be self-supporting or the marriage was of such a length that it is considered appropriate.
Once the court orders alimony in any form, the payments commence on the date ordered. If it does not, the receiving party can file contempt. There is a court process at the end of which the person may receive a judgment. The judgment can then be collected in various ways such as garnishment of wages or bank accounts.