Maintenance — formerly known as alimony — is what a court can award from one spouse to another spouse in a divorce proceeding so that one spouse’s reasonable needs are met after the divorce. Missouri statutes list a number of factors the Court must consider in deciding whether to award maintenance:
(1) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian; (2) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; (3) The comparative earning capacity of each spouse; (4) The standard of living established during the marriage; (5) The obligations and assets, including the marital property apportioned to him and the separate property of each party; (6) The duration of the marriage; (7) The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; (8) The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; (9) The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and (10) Any other relevant factors.
There are, as you can tell, many things that a judge may consider — including the ominous “any other relevant factors.” From our experience, though, the two most important things Judges look to are (a) the length of the marriage and any (b) income disparity between the parties. The classic maintenance case occurs when there is a longstanding marriage (e.g., 20+ years) and one spouse did not work and depended financially upon the other spouse for income.
Remember that an award of maintenance is often non-modifiable. Unlike child support and child custody, a maintenance award usually cannot be amended (though it could be appealed if there was a trial error).