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Introduction

One of the main ways that parties may continue to be financially linked for years after a divorce is through a court order for spousal maintenance, formally known as “alimony.” Having an attorney that can help you determine whether a maintenance order is likely, and how much the payments may be, is very important because of the long term monetary implications involved.

Threshold Test:

The vast majority of divorces do not end in an award of spousal maintenance. When considering a maintenance order, a two-part statutory test is first evaluated by the Court:

  1. Is there sufficient property, including marital property, apportioned to a spouse to meet his or her reasonable needs; or
  2. Is the spouse capable through appropriate employment to meet his or her reasonable needs, or is an employee spouse the physical custodian of a child whose circumstances mate it appropriate that spouse not seek employment at this time.

If a spouse cannot meet their reasonable needs through property or employment, the court should award maintenance.

Amount

Many states have adopted mathematical formulas to guide a court in its maintenance award calculations, however, Missouri has not adopted any such formula. Maintenance is instead calculated on a case by case basis. The Court may consider any factors that it deems relevant, including: (1) The property and economic resources of the party desiring support, (2) The time required to gain sufficient training or education to find suitable employment, (3) Each spouses earning ability, (4) The standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the marriage, (5) The debts, property, and financial obligations of each party, (6) The length of the marriage, (7) The health and age of the spouse seeking maintenance, (8) The ability of the spouse whom would pay maintenance to meet his or her own reasonable needs while paying maintenance, (9) The behavior and/or misconduct of either spouse during the marriage, (10) Any other factors deemed to be relevant by the court.

Since Missouri has no formula for determining maintenance, it is important for your attorney to assist you in thoroughly completing any financial documents filed with the Court. A lack of completeness or inaccuracy may greatly hurt a party’s chance of an appropriately calculated award. Furthermore, an experienced attorney can help you to focus on the factors that you Judge focuses upon the most.

Duration

If a court can determine a specific date when the spouse receiving maintenance will become self supporting, the court should enter maintenance for only the time period until he or she would be self supporting. Parties often also agree to maintenance for a certain duration.

If it is not clear when the spouse will become self-supporting the court should order open-ended maintenance. The maintenance order should state whether it is modifiable or non-modifiable. When maintenance is modifiable, a party may later file a motion, and try try to prove that there has been a change in the financial circumstances of the parties that makes the prior order unreasonable.

Unless a court specifically orders otherwise, maintenance should always terminate upon death of a spouse or remarriage of the spouse receiving maintenance.

Attorneys at Vessel Bridges Murphy are ready to assist you. It is our hope that you find these materials useful. When you are ready, contact our offices to schedule an appointment.