What You Need to Know About Maintenance & Spousal Support Missouri
If you’re dealing with St. Louis spousal support & maintenance, Leigh Joy Carson is the Clayton, MO, divorce attorney you want on your side.
Maintenance & Spousal Support Missouri
There was a time when spousal maintenance support, or alimony in Missouri, was a common occurrence in a divorce settlement, including marital property apportioned. But it has become less popular in recent years, with only one in every six divorcing couples even considering it as an option.
However, in cases where it is relevant, spousal maintenance plays a very crucial role in divorce proceedings. Maintenance can be a very sensitive topic between divorcing couples, and it is important to have the services of an attorney with valuable insight in family law if you or your spouse plans to pursue it.
The Carson Law Firm understands that in some situations, maintenance is absolutely relevant and necessary, and in others, it isn’t. We also understand the complexity of every factor at play.
We have the experience to determine how the income of both parties, ability to earn a living, age, health, work history, and the amount of child support being paid will all have an impact on the court’s decision regarding spousal support.
We work with clients to understand all of the issues at play in the divorce before determining what, if any, role that maintenance should play in the divorce settlement.
What Is the Purpose of Missouri Spousal Support?
After a dissolution of marriage or legal separation, a Missouri court may order that one spouse pays financial support or maintenance to the other spouse. This type of financial support used to be called alimony, but it’s now called maintenance or spousal support. However, a spouse seeking maintenance payments has to prove to the court she or he actually needs help.
Periodic, permanent, and temporary alimony or a combination of these types may be awarded by the judges in the State of Missouri.
Periodic alimony is a type of support a spouse pays to a supported spouse while she or he acquires relevant education to seek employment. On the other hand, one spouse can provide spousal support if the other spouse’s ability to become financially independent is in jeopardy because of their disability or advanced age. However, if one spouse needs financial help just during the divorce process, a court may order a temporary maintenance award until the process is finalized.
Alimony payments are usually paid monthly by withholding the amount of maintenance from the paying spouse’s paycheck. If the supported spouse is not receiving spousal support payments, they can ask the court to enforce the judgment.
Missouri Spousal Support Laws
Missouri courts have broad discretion when determining the amount of spousal support and its duration. Courts can consider several relevant factors during this process, including:
Financial resources of the spouse seeking support
Comparative earning capacity of both spouses
The amount of time that party seeking maintenance needs to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
Standard of living established during the marriage and duration of the marriage
The ability of the paying spouse to remain financially independent while paying maintenance
Missouri courts may also consider how each spouse behaved during the marriage. But, that doesn’t mean the court will deny maintenance to a supported spouse just because they had an affair or award alimony payments to a financially independent spouse just to punish the other spouse. Courts don’t use maintenance to “punish” either spouse; the goal of the spousal support is to make sure both spouses don’t suffer financial hardship after a Missouri divorce.
Under the law, courts may also award alimony if the dependent spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property, to provide for themselves and their needs or if he or she cannot be financially independent.
Can St. Louis Spousal Support Order Be Modified?
A spousal support & maintenance order can be modified. If the couple doesn’t agree to make the maintenance non-modifiable, the party seeking spousal support or the spouse paying alimony can request a court to modify a maintenance obligation. However, either party has to prove that a significant change in circumstances occurred.
The factors qualifying as a change in circumstances are case-specific and ultimately depend on the court. Here’s the list of examples that could be considered as qualifying circumstances:
Significant injury or an illness that inhibits one’s earning capacity
Unexpected job loss
Also, if the receiving spouse marries again, the other spouse doesn’t have to pay maintenance from the date of the new marriage.
However, demonstrating that a significant change in circumstances has occurred can be difficult without the help of a St. Louis spousal support attorney.
Can Either Husband or Wife Request Spousal Support?
In Missouri, alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is not gender-specific. Either the husband or wife can request this support. The determining factor is not gender but the financial need of one spouse and their ability to support themselves.
The court evaluates factors such as the financial obligations and assets of each party, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, and whether the spouse seeking alimony can seek employment outside the home.
For example, if one spouse is the custodian of a child whose condition makes it unsuitable for them to work outside the home, this could influence the decision. It’s not about whether you’re a husband or wife, but rather the financial circumstances and the reasonable needs of the party requesting support.
How Does One Modify or Terminate Maintenance Orders in Missouri?
In Missouri, to modify or terminate a maintenance or alimony order, there must be a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. This could pertain to changes in financial capacity, employment status, or the needs of the spouse receiving alimony.
When determining or recalculating alimony payments, courts will assess the obligations and assets, including separate property, of each spouse. An alimony agreement could be designated as modifiable or nonmodifiable. If it’s the former, the alimony amount can be adjusted based on the changes in conditions.
But if the agreement is deemed nonmodifiable, then changes might not be allowed regardless of the circumstances. If one fails to make the agreed alimony payments, they could face consequences and be held in contempt of court.
If someone is looking to modify or terminate their alimony agreement, it’s crucial to engage an experienced family law attorney in the process to ensure all legal avenues are correctly navigated.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?
The Carson Law Firm approaches every case by determining what is best for you, and then forging a plan to achieve it. Our experience in family law cases has placed us at the forefront of a wide array of divorce cases throughout greater St. Louis. While every case is different, we have developed a vast knowledge-base, and have the insight to apply it to your case.
If you have more questions about spousal support awards, reach out to a St. Louis spousal support lawyer at The Carson Law Firm.