Experienced Divorce Lawyers Pursue Fair Alimony Orders in Rolla, MO
Protecting your rights in disputes over spousal maintenance
When one household suddenly becomes two, the natural question is, “Who’s going to pay for this?” Historically, the burden fell on a husband to support a wife even after the marriage was dissolved. The law allowed courts to order alimony, often for life, to a dependent spouse to prevent undue financial hardship. However, as times have changed, so have the laws of spousal maintenance. In Missouri, as in other states, a dependent spouse is generally expected to become self-supporting within a reasonable time following a divorce. Still, spousal maintenance remains one of the most contested issues in Missouri divorces and the most crucial to both parties’ financial future. At Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla, our divorce lawyers serve all of South-Central Missouri and work earnestly to secure the best possible result so you can begin the next phase of your life with the financial security you deserve.
Basics of Missouri spousal maintenance law
Spousal maintenance is the formal term used in Missouri family law for what is popularly called alimony or spousal support. The law on this issue is Missouri Revised Statute §452.335, which allows a court to order support in a divorce or legal separation proceeding only when the spouse seeking maintenance:
- “Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him, to provide for his reasonable needs; and
- “Is unable to support himself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.”
So, a spouse must be in financial need and be unable to personally meet that need. Spousal maintenance is gender-blind, so either spouse can petition to receive payments from the other.
Factors Missouri courts apply to decide on alimony
Once the court has decided that alimony is appropriate, it must determine how much to award and for how long. The court applies numerous factors found in the law:
- The financial resources of the recipient spouse
- The time necessary for the recipient spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
- The comparative earning capacity of each spouse
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The obligor spouse’s ability to pay
- The conduct of the parties during the marriage
- Any other relevant factors
In general, the longer the marriage, the longer the period of alimony. A lengthy duration of alimony is also appropriate if the recipient spouse is in poor health or unable to work because of responsibilities as a primary caretaker of children from the marriage.
It’s also important to note that Missouri does factor marital misconduct into alimony decisions, but only after determining if alimony is warranted based on financial circumstances. If a spouse committed adultery or domestic violence, the court can be generous toward the innocent spouse.
Petitioning for alimony after a divorce
Most spousal maintenance actions arise during a divorce or legal separation proceeding. However, Missouri law also allows for a post-divorce action if one spouse was beyond the court’s jurisdiction at the time the divorce was heard. If an absent spouse returns to the state after a divorce has been awarded in absentia, the petitioner may file a separate action for spousal maintenance. Our family law attorneys are prepared to assist in all types of cases involving spousal maintenance. We represent parties seeking maintenance as well as those responding to an alimony petition.
For capable representation for your alimony dispute in Missouri, call our family law attorneys
Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla provides determined representation in disputes over spousal maintenance throughout South-Central Missouri. To schedule an appointment, call 573-458-5200 or contact us online.