Under Missouri law, spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is not automatically granted in the case of a divorce or legal separation. The family law attorneys at The Schechter Law Firm, P.C. in St. Louis have years of experience litigating marriage dissolution issues and understand when and how to argue the matter of spousal maintenance in Missouri courts.
Receiving Spouse Must Prove Need for Maintenance
Maintenance is not granted in every instance. In order to obtain a maintenance award, the spouse seeking maintenance must prove that he or she lacks sufficient property, including the portion of marital property awarded in the divorce, to provide for his or her reasonable needs, and also that he or she is unable to be self-supporting through appropriate employment. This employment provision includes situations where the spouse needs to stay at home and take of a child rather than seek outside employment.
Court Decides How Much Maintenance to Award
If the court decides maintenance is appropriate, it looks to many different factors to determine how much to award and for how long to continue the award. For instance, the court will consider how long it might take the receiving spouse to become self-supporting, the comparative earning capacity of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and their conduct during the marriage.
Duration of Maintenance
If the parties can negotiate and agree upon an amount of maintenance, they can also agree upon a date when the maintenance will end, such as in a few years, for instance. If, however, the parties cannot agree and must litigate the maintenance issue, any award the court makes generally does not include a termination date, and maintenance will last until death of the paying spouse, a subsequent modification, or remarriage by the receiving spouse.
When Maintenance May Be Modified
Whether or not a maintenance order may be modified depends upon the terms of the order itself, which must state whether the order is modifiable or non-modifiable. A modifiable order may be increased, decreased, or terminated. Like child custody and child support, domestic relations orders can only be modified by persuading the court that circumstances have changed that would justify a modification.
Experienced Missouri Spousal Maintenance Lawyers
Whether seeking or opposing an order of maintenance or modification of an award, trust your dissolution case to the attorneys with over 100 years of combined experience in Missouri family law. Throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area, contact The Schechter Law Firm, P.C. for quality, professional advice and representation.