Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to their former spouse after the divorce.
In Missouri, there is no set method to calculate Spousal Support. Whether or not you will be paying or receiving spousal maintenance, the amount is usually decided on a case-to-case basis.
Typically, during your initial consultation with a St. Louis divorce attorney, they will evaluate your circumstances and determine if one spouse will be required to pay spousal maintenance to the other spouse after completion of the divorce process. In this post, we will discuss the factors that your lawyer and judge will consider in making the maintenance evaluation.
Missouri Spousal Support Threshold Test
In Missouri, a two-part threshold test is used for evaluation.
Step 1: Is there sufficient property, allocated to a spouse to meet his/her reasonable needs?
Step 2: Is the spouse capable of meeting his/her reasonable needs through appropriate employment, or is an employable spouse the custodian for a child whose circumstances are not appropriate for the spouse to seek employment?
Factors considered in determining the length and amount of spousal support
If the above-mentioned threshold is not met, it is unlikely that spousal maintenance will be awarded. However, if the threshold is met, the court will consider other factors to decide the length and amount of the spousal maintenance award. These factors include:
- The above-mentioned threshold factors will be considered along with a separate award of child support
- The comparative earning capacity of both spouses
- The amount of time that the spouse requires to get adequate training to find a job to meet his/her needs
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living of both parties
- The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance
- The ability of the other spouse to pay maintenance considering his/her ability to meet their own reasonable needs
- The conduct of both parties during the marriage
Types of Spousal Maintenance
In a divorce case, a judge can order different categories of spousal maintenance depending on factors including the ability of one spouse to pay, the duration of the marriage, the capability of the other spouse to self-sustain, and much more. There are four basic forms of maintenance awards, as discussed by our St. Louis divorce lawyers below.
Temporary spousal maintenance
This form of maintenance is valid for the period of the divorce proceedings to allow the low-income spouse to meet their needs. This maintenance is awarded by the court and generally ends once the divorce gets finalized. Awarding the temporary spousal maintenance does not deprive the spouse of other forms of maintenance later once the divorce proceedings are complete.
Permanent spousal maintenance
Permanent spousal maintenance awards are given at the time of the final settlement of the divorce proceedings and are not necessarily “permanent” in the sense that they will last forever.
Permanent maintenance orders are generally given only if:
- The couple is married for a very long time
- One of the spouses does not have the ability to support themselves financially
- The spouse cannot maintain a good standard of living
Except in rare cases, where the maintenance continues even after re-marriage, the maintenance orders generally become null and void after death or remarriage of the spouse.
Rehabilitative spousal maintenance
The rehabilitative awards are similar to the permanent spousal maintenance awards but have few termination clauses attached. A rehabilitative spousal maintenance award is aimed at providing support to the spouse until they are able to meet their needs on their own. Hence this award generally gets terminated once the spouse graduates, get a certification or a job, or even if the stipulated time period has lapsed.
Reimbursement spousal maintenance
A reimbursement spousal award is given in special cases. If one spouse helps the other one attain degrees or certifications to get a job, the other spouse is liable to pay back the amount once they start earning. The amounts and method of payment are decided in the beginning and then the spouse pays back the money in a lump sum or installments, as decided upon.
How does a judge decide on the award?
The family law judge has the discretion to consider any relevant factor including, but not limited to the above factors. Also, there is no specific method to determine the amount of the spousal maintenance and no legally defined amount for the judge to consider. The judge evaluates the case based on the factors that he/she believes are important to the specific case.
You will be required to submit a financial disclosure that details your monthly expenses, monthly income, and financial assets and liabilities. Both spouses will be required to file this financial disclosure. These documents are often used to make an early evaluation of the need to request spousal maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay maintenance. These filings need to completed thoroughly and accurately.
Seeking legal help in a divorce case in St. Louis, Missouri
If you are contemplating a divorce, or you are already going through one, you should consider speaking with an experienced and reputed St. Louis family law attorney. An experienced attorney will assist you in all matters concerning your divorce and factors related to spousal support and maintenance.
We understand the trauma involved in a divorce, the complexities of separation and all its legal and financial aspects. Our team strives to get our clients the best possible deal so that they can maintain the same living standards after the divorce.
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