Spousal support, sometimes called spousal maintenance or alimony, is financial support that one spouse is ordered by a court to give to the other during a divorce. If you are thinking about dissolving your marriage, an experienced attorney at our firm could help determine if spousal support may play a role in your separation.
Alimony is not mandatory— it is based on the unique circumstances of a given case. Because of this, the courts have a lot of discretion on whether to award it and for what amount. Whether you think you are entitled to spousal support, believe the terms of your alimony agreement are unfair, or are looking to avoid paying it altogether, a Des Peres spousal support lawyer is here to help. We understand that divorce is already a stressful and emotional process. Our team will work closely with you to help alleviate these legal stressors and protect your interests. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to discuss your situation with a compassionate family law attorney.
Spouses Can Agree to Waive Support
Spouses can enter into prenuptial agreements that waive both partners’ entitlement to spousal support. State courts will enforce the agreement if it is in writing, properly signed and notarized, and if it was entered into freely, fairly, and with full disclosure of each party’s income, property and debts. A Des Peres attorney could advise you as to whether a prenuptial agreement that waives the right to support is likely to survive a court challenge.
If you and your former spouse do not have a valid prenup, you could still waive alimony by agreement. For example, you and your former spouse could agree that the receiving partner will get a larger property settlement instead of spousal maintenance payments.
Three Types of Maintenance are Available
Courts consider several factors when deciding whether to award spousal support. According to Missouri Revised Statutes §452.335, these factors often include:
- Length of the marriage, with support more likely when a marriage has endured a long time
- Ages and health of the spouses
- Lifestyle the couple enjoyed while married
- Ability of each spouse to maintain a reasonable lifestyle after divorce
- Each spouse’s ability to be financially independent based on education, work history, marketable skills, and childcare responsibilities
- The amount of property awarded to a spouse and the income-producing availability of that property
A Des Peres attorney could ensure the court thoroughly understands your financial situation and other factors relevant to the alimony decision.
After considering these factors, the court might order temporary, modifiable, or non-modifiable alimony. A court also could refuse alimony if it believes the claimant spouse is capable of being financially independent.
Temporary maintenance is payments of support while your marriage is being dissolved. Courts might order the higher-earning spouse to make monthly payments to the other during the pendency of your divorce proceeding if the finances are no longer being shared. The purpose of this type of alimony is to maintain the status quo until the divorce is resolved.
Non-Modifiable Support (Support That Ends On a Specific Date)
If the court believes that the receiving spouse will become self-supporting after a period of transition or after a specific date, the court will order a termination date to the alimony. During this time, that spouse might obtain or continue their education or refresh their skills if they have been away from the job market. The trend in Missouri currently is away from non-modifiable support when support is ordered by a judge. However, most couples reaching settlements without trial will often negotiate for this type of support.
Modifiable Support (Support With No Termination Date)
This is the most common type of alimony awarded by a judge. It is typically ordered in a specific dollar amount. The obligation continues until either spouse dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or the court modifies the alimony in a subsequent court action.
Impact of Fault on Alimony
Some people believe that adultery or other marital misconduct should disqualify a spouse from receiving alimony. Alternatively, some believe that a spouse who has misbehaved in a marriage should be required to pay more alimony as punishment.
Missouri law specifically allows marital misconduct, or fault, to be a factor in the Court’s determination of whether or not to award alimony. The type of marital misconduct will determine the strength of the argument that fault should be a consideration in awarding alimony. A Des Peres attorney could answer any further questions about what might influence an alimony decision during a private, confidential consultation.
Rely on a Des Peres Spousal Support Attorney for Help
At Jones Family Law Group, LLC, we understand that the legal complexities of divorce can be overwhelming to tackle alone. This is especially true with spousal support agreements, as they can be a highly controversial and contested issue. If you and your former partner cannot agree on the amount, duration, or need for spousal maintenance, our firm is the call to make.
A Des Peres spousal support lawyer could help you and your partner negotiate an agreement to avoid leaving the decision in a judge’s hands. If a judge must decide, an attorney at our firm would advocate tirelessly for your needs and position. Allow our team to take the lead in this process and ensure that your voice is heard. Call Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to schedule a consultation.