When a spouse files for divorce in Missouri, one spouse may be entitled to receive financial support from the other spouse. This is commonly known as alimony or spousal maintenance. If you are considering divorce, you may wonder if you are entitled to spousal maintenance or if you will have to pay it and, if so, how much?
In Missouri, a judge will order spousal maintenance when one spouse cannot maintain certain living expenses and the other spouse is financially able to provide support. Oftentimes, the supported spouse has a disadvantage in terms of education or career experience. It’s important to understand that maintenance is not meant to punish the paying spouse — instead, it is meant to ensure that both spouses maintain a standard of living after the divorce close to what they had during the marriage.
To determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, the judge will initially consider whether the spouse making the request has sufficient property to be self-supporting. If not, the judge next considers whether the spouse could become self-supporting by obtaining a job or education. The judge will also consider whether the spouse has a child that requires special care such that employment outside of the home would not be appropriate for that spouse at this time.
After making these considerations, if the court finds that a spousal maintenance award is warranted, the court will consider the following factors in determining the amount and duration of the award:
- The financial resources of the dependent spouse
- The time necessary for the dependent spouse to obtain further education and training
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s assets and debts
- Each spouse’s conduct during the marriage
- The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse making the maintenance request and the ability of the other spouse to provide that support
If you are considering divorce in Missouri, consult with an experienced divorce attorney to advise you about your rights to receive maintenance or your obligations to provide it.