In a divorce, one spouse may be entitled to maintenance--also known as alimony or spousal support. The purpose of a maintenance award is to assist the dependent spouse in maintaining the standard of living he or she was accustomed to during the marriage. These payments are typically made until the dependent spouse has become completely self-sufficient.
A lawmaker in Missouri is looking to change alimony laws to specify time limits on maintenance payments. These changes could significantly limit the amount of maintenance a dependent spouse could receive after a separation or divorce. If you have any questions about spousal maintenance in Missouri, talk to your Cass County divorce attorney.
Proposed Changes to Missouri's Spousal Maintenance Laws
Representative Jim Neely introduced House Bill (HB) 194, which has passed the Administrative Oversight Committee. The bill would modify the way spousal maintenance is granted and would require the court to specify whether the maintenance is:
- Rehabilitative, or
Durational maintenance would be based on the length of the marriage, from the date of marriage to the date of filing for divorce or legal separation. Durational support would be further categorized as:
- A short-term marriage which has a duration of less than seven (7) years;
- A moderate-term marriage which has a duration of seven (7) years but less than 17 years; or
- A long-term marriage which has a duration of 17 years or more.
Marital support would be limited, based on the length of the marriage and the type of support. Bridge-the-gap maintenance would be available for short-term marriages. This would be enough to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single.
Rehabilitative maintenance would be available for short-term or moderate-term marriages to “establish the capacity for self-support.”
Durational maintenance would be available for moderate-term or long-term marriages and provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage. The durational support standards would provide for the maximum duration of maintenance, based on length of marriage, as follows:
- Less than 7 years, maximum maintenance is 3 years;
- More than 7 but less than 10 years, maximum maintenance is 5 years;
- More than 10 years but less than 17, maximum maintenance is 7 years;
- More than 17 years but less than 25, maximum maintenance is 10 years; or
- More than 25 years of marriage, maximum maintenance is 15 years.
The bill would also allow for modification or termination of any spousal maintenance, if it can be shown that the recipient and another person have entered into a “mutually supportive relationship that is the functional equivalent of marriage that has existed for at least 12 months of an 18-month period.”
Current Maintenance Laws
Under existing Missouri spousal maintenance laws, the court has wide discretion to determine the amount and duration of spousal support. The court can consider a number of factors, including:
- The financial resources of the party seeking alimony. This includes the marital property acquired in an asset division case, ability to meet respective financial needs independently and for a child;
- The amount of time necessary for a parent to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to gain appropriate employment;
- The comparative earning capacity of each spouse;
- The standard of living established within a marriage;
- The financial obligations and assets (including marital property and separate property) of each spouse;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
- The ability of the potential supporting spouse to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking alimony;
- The conduct of both spouses within the marriage; and
- Other relevant factors.
Raymore Missouri Divorce Lawyer
If you are facing a divorce or separation and have questions about alimony or spousal maintenance, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today. You can reach us by phone at (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.