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Separate Maintenance (Alimony)

In Missouri proceedings for legal separation or dissolution of marriage, the court may grant a “maintenance” order to either spouse upon petition/request. Maintenance is periodic payments from one spouse to the other spouse after they have split. It is called maintenance because the goal of the payments or compensation is to maintain the financial status of each respective party and put them in as good of a position (or as near as possible) to the place they would have been had the marriage continued.

The relevant Missouri Statute has guidelines for when a court may order maintenance. A court must find that the party seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including marital property, sufficient for his/her needs, and that he/she is unable to himself/herself through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child rendering him/her limited in employment opportunities.

If a court finds that these requirements have been met, then Missouri law affords the judge latitude and discretion in ordering the maintenance by allowing the judge to consider the following factors:

(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.

Lastly, the Court order will generally provide if the maintenance order is modifiable, non-modifiable, or terminates at a fixed date. From my experience, and from the clients I have dealt with, we generally do not request a maintenance order. When we do, however, we ask the court for a relatively low amount of maintenance payable monthly which is non-modifiable. But, this all depends on the particular parties and circumstances of a case.

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