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The risks of paying maintenance or alimony in Missouri

Maintenance, called alimony in some states, may be a key factor in your divorce case. In order to award maintenance the court must find that your spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property awarded to her, to meet her reasonable needs. Also, your spouse must be unable to support herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that she not be required to seek employment outside of the home.

While maintenance can be awarded to husbands or wives in the vast majority of cases we are talking about husbands paying their wives maintenance.

What should you know if this is an issue in your divorce case in Missouri:

  1. There is no set formula. That's right. It's a crapshoot. While other states have set formulas, in Missouri the amount of monthly maintenance is determined on a case by case basis and hopefully based on the party's financial needs. This means while your attorney will do his or her best job to guide you in an appropriate amount if you take your case to court you should be concerned because there is no set formula. The judge may award substantially more or substantially less in monthly maintenance than you had anticipated.
  2. You could be paying it until you die, your spouse dies, or your spouse remarries. This means forever. Unless the court can determine an exact date when your spouse will become self-supporting the judge will not put a termination date on how long the maintenance is going to be paid.
  3. What does this really mean if maintenance is a central issue in your divorce case? It means that you don't have a very good case for "rolling the dice." It means that you need to put a very real, good faith effort into settlement negotiations so that you can cut all financial ties from your spouse. To do anything less than to try to settle your case is both unwise and foolish.