What You Need to Know About St. Louis Spousal Support & Maintenance
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, was a common occurrence in a divorce settlement. 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.
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.
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.