Understanding Maintenance Laws

In Missouri, when a couple files for divorce, one of the spouses may seek financial support from the other. This support, formerly referred to as alimony, is known as maintenance. A judge may make a maintenance order when one spouse cannot sustain living expenses and the other spouse is able to provide financial support. To help you understand the laws related to spousal maintenance, O’Donnell Law Center has outlined some points here. To continue this discussion please contact our Lake of the Ozarks family law attorney.

When is Maintenance Awarded?

A judge will determine whether a maintenance order will be awarded after evaluating several factors, including whether the spouse requesting support has sufficient income and resources, and whether the spouse can become self-supporting with job training or education. A spouse may also require support if he or she is the parent of a child, or children, who require in-home care and a job outside of the home would be unsuitable.

How is Maintenance Calculated?

There is no set formula for the calculation of maintenance in Missouri, and it is determined on a case by case basis.  Some factors a judge will consider include: duration of the marriage, whether one spouse has a disadvantage in terms of education or career training, and/or the ability to pay and earning capacity of each party. A judge may also take into consideration each spouse’s conduct during the marriage and the age of the parties.

What is the Duration of Maintenance?

Maintenance can be temporary, with a specific end-date, or it can end upon the happening of an event such as death or re-marriage, or it can have no pre-determined termination date, with the end-date to be determined at some point in the future.  

Can a Maintenance Order be Modified or Terminated?

If the court has determined that maintenance is to be awarded, the judge will make the order modifiable or non-modifiable.  Modifiable maintenance means the court can decrease, increase, terminate or extend the support based upon a change of circumstances. Under non-modifiable maintenance, the court will not modify the order. It is not uncommon for non-modifiable maintenance to terminate upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the receiving party.

How is Maintenance Enforced?

If you are ordered to pay spousal maintenance, it is important to make the payments regularly and on time. Missed maintenance payments may result in judgments against you and wage garnishment and/or seizure of property or bank accounts could result. Additionally, more serious implications could occur if the party receiving the maintenance payments files a motion for contempt. If the court were to find you to be in contempt of court, fines and/ or attorney fees and possibly jail time could be ordered.

Maintenance is not an absolute right, nor is it intended to punish the paying spouse. These orders are intended to support a spouse after a divorce and assure a reasonable style of living is maintained. For more information relating to divorce, spousal support and maintenance laws, contact the O’Donnell Law Center for an appointment. 

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Osage Beach, MO  65065


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