When couples divorce, spousal support is often one of the issues that must be decided before they can dissolve their marriage. Spousal support, also called alimony or maintenance, can assist a financially dependent spouse adapt to life as a single person.
If you and your spouse are getting divorced and are discussing whether maintenance should be part of your agreements, you should consult an experienced divorce attorney from our firm. A Ballwin spousal support lawyer from Jones Family Law Group, LLC, can represent you in negotiations with your spouse, whether you are seeking support or are hoping not to pay any. With the help of a seasoned advocate, you and your spouse could reach an agreement that allows you both to move out of your marriage on the right foot and be well-prepared for the future. Contact us today to discuss your unique situation with a compassionate legal professional.
Spousal Maintenance Basics
The purpose of spousal support or maintenance is to allow the spouse with fewer resources or limited earning capacity a chance to get back on their feet financially after a divorce. If a spouse’s age makes entering or returning to the workforce infeasible, or if they suffer from a condition that prevents them from working, support could be open-ended (i.e. no termination date). Spouses can also agree that maintenance be for a specified length of time and limited in duration.
Sometimes, spouses decide on maintenance before they get married. If you agree to waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement, courts will enforce it if the agreement meets certain legal requirements.
During your divorce, you and your spouse will need to negotiate multiple issues important to the dissolution of your marriage. Spousal support is one of those issues. A court will likely accept any spousal support arrangement to which you and your spouse agree. An experienced attorney serving Ballwin could help you negotiate a reasonable and fair spousal support agreement that protects your best interests.
Asking the Court to Award Maintenance
If you and your spouse cannot agree on maintenance, the spouse who wants support must ask a court to award it. Spouses are not entitled to maintenance; they must demonstrate their need for it. According to Missouri Revised Statutes §452.335, a spouse could demonstrate a need for support by showing that:
- After the divorce, they will not have enough resources to meet their needs
- They cannot currently support themselves through employment
- Childcare responsibilities make it preferable that they do not work outside the home to support themselves
A judge could award support if they agree the pursuing spouse cannot maintain their previous standard of living after the divorce without it.
The amount of support depends on various circumstances, and the judge has the discretion to decide what factors seem most important in a specific case. The ability of the paying spouse to support the other is crucial. A court will not award a support payment that compromises the paying spouse’s ability to maintain their own reasonable lifestyle after the marriage ends.
The duration of your marriage is important—the longer the marriage, the more likely a requesting spouse is entitled alimony if they cannot meet their own reasonable needs. Other factors that are significant include whether the requesting spouse has health problems or other limitations that restrict their ability to find a job, whether a spouse left a career or schooling to raise children or support the other’s career, and how much the requesting spouse’s lifestyle will change if they do not receive support. In Missouri, Judges can also consider marital misconduct when awarding support.
Duration of Spousal Support
Spousal support can be a temporary bridge until the receiving spouse completes their education, learns marketable skills, or resumes a prior career. If being a stay-at-home parent is a reason for seeking support, the support might reduce or end altogether when the children no longer need a parent at home for them all the time.
Spousal support could last for an extended period of time if a receiving spouse is elderly, in poor health, or has another condition that prevents them from supporting themselves.
Sometimes an order for spousal support has a termination date, but sometimes it does not. In those circumstances, the paying spouse must return to court to reduce or terminate maintenance when the receiving spouse can or should be able to support themselves. A Ballwin attorney could advise you whether circumstances have changed enough to justify asking the court to modify your support order.
Get Help from a Ballwin Spousal Support Attorney Today
Spousal support can become a contentious issue in a divorce. Knowing what the law requires and what you can reasonably expect could make it much easier to discuss the matter with your spouse.
You do not have to go about your divorce alone. A Ballwin spousal support lawyer from our firm could represent you in negotiations over spousal support and commit to an agreement in writing. If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, seasoned legal counsel could advocate for your position before the judge. Reach out to Jones Family Law Group, LLC, for help with your spousal support issues.