Infrequently, maintenance or alimony are requested in a Missouri divorce. However, the circumstances of the parties determine — and may even dictate — whether a maintenance award should be granted. The circumstances that form the backdrop for a maintenance claim are unique to each divorce. For example, one spouse may have a serious medical condition, the spouses may have a child with autism requiring around-the-clock parenting, or a spouse may lack employable skills. At Cope Litigation & Transactions LC, we dig deeply into your circumstances to determine the best approach to maintenance requests and work hard to protect your rights as to maintenance awards.
“Maintenance” refers to the same court ordered obligation that used to be called “alimony” in Missouri. A court may grant a maintenance to a spouse if the court finds that, after the divorce, that spouse will lack sufficient property and employment to provide for his or her living expenses. Additionally, if the spouse seeking maintenance is the custodian of a child whose circumstances make it appropriate that the spouse cannot seek employment outside the home, the court may award maintenance to that spouse.
In deciding whether to award maintenance, the court may consider all relevant factors. In particular, the court will review the financial resources of the spouse asking for maintenance and, where appropriate, the time necessary for that spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to become employable. The court will look at the earning capacity of each spouse and the standard of living established during the marriage. More importantly, the court will consider the duration of the marriage and the age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance. Interestingly, the conduct of the parties during the marriage is relevant to the awarding of maintenance.
After the filing of a divorce, the court may enter an order granting a spouse temporary maintenance pending to outcome of the divorce. The temporary award must be made using the same factors that would be considered at trial. However, a spouse possibly may receive temporary maintenance even though they would not receive maintenance at trial. This can occur because the assets and income of the husband and wife may not be accessible prior to trial.
If maintenance is awarded by the court, the judgment of the court shall state if award is modifiable or non-modifiable. If the award is non-modifiable, then the maintenance amount cannot be increased or decreased by a later court order. If the award of maintenance is modifiable, then the court may order the award decreased, increased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified.
If you need an attorney to help you understand and advocate for your rights with regard to maintenance, contact Cope Litigation & Transactions. We work with clients during and after the divorce process to ensure that maintenance awards reflect our clients' specific circumstances and interests. Located in Springfield, we serve clients throughout Southwest Missouri.