One of the most fertile areas of litigation in Missouri divorces
stems from one spouse’s claim for maintenance (formerly known as ‘alimony’).

When one spouse asks the court for maintenance, the court first considers if that spouse
has sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable needs. If not, the court then
determines whether the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to support him/herself
through appropriate employment.

If the court determines that the spouse is in need of maintenance, the court may then
consider a litany of factors, such as:

• The parties’ financial resources
• The time needed for the spouse to find appropriate employment
• The comparative earning capacity of each spouse
• The duration of the marriage
• The age and physical condition of the parties
• The ability of the spouse paying maintenance to meet his own needs
• The conduct of the parties during marriage
• Any other relevant factor

If a judge determines that one spouse is entitled to maintenance, whatever amount
is ordered will be indefinite in length. That means that if you are ordered to pay a
certain amount of maintenance, there will be no end date to the court order. It will your
responsibility to go back to court in the future to ask the judge to reduce or terminate
maintenance because of later changes in each party’s incomes or your spouse’s delay in
finding employment.

When you and your spouse come to an agreement on maintenance, however, the court
will generally accept whatever you and your spouse have decided. That means, you can
agree to a certain amount of maintenance for a fixed period of time, or even a graduated
arrangement where maintenance decreases automatically over time.

You should also be aware that there are important tax consequences of maintenance: it
is income to the recipient, subject to income tax; but it is an income tax deduction to the
person paying the maintenance.

Determining whether maintenance is appropriate in your case is very fact specific and
requires years of legal experience. At Medler & Roither, our attorneys can review your
financial profile and advise you on whether a court is likely to make a maintenance award
as part of your particular divorce.

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