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Under the law, a divorcing spouse can request for alimony (or as it is known in Missouri, spousal maintenance) from the other spouse. The law does not require that an alimony award be made in every divorce, and judges have significant discretion when making alimony decisions, making the assistance of counsel highly advisable in any case where maintenance is at issue.

Are you or your spouse eligible for alimony?

Typically, alimony is only awarded under two situations. First, the court will award alimony if a spouse can show that he or she lack sufficient property (including marital property that they receive in the divorce) to provide for his or her reasonable need.

Second, a court will award alimony if one of the spouses stays home to take care of a young or disabled child that requires full-time care. Gender is not one of the considerations the court will use in deciding alimony.

How Does a Court Determine Maintenance?

The court looks at several factors in determining the amount of alimony and the duration of alimony payments. Both of these decisions are discretionary under the law. The court does not use rigid formulas like it would in a child support calculation.

A judge can consider a number of factors when making a decision about spousal maintenance, including the following:

  • The financial resources of the person making the alimony payments and the person receiving alimony payments, including any child support awards that a spouse has also been ordered to make
  • How much time the person receiving alimony payments may need to get an education or job skills
  • Each party’s earning capacity
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, health, and emotional condition of the person who will receive alimony payments
  • How the parties behaved during the course of the marriage

A common situation in which maintenance is awarded is when the person seeking it has forgone education and training or has not worked for the duration of the marriage. Another common example where alimony payments are ordered — typically only for a limited period of time — is when the spouse needs support while completing school or job training or until a young child is old enough to go to school.

How Can Alimony Awards Be Enforced?

If your spouse has not been making payments pursuant to an alimony order, there are steps you can take to get the money you are owed. For example, you could seek an order that would garnish wages and take the alimony payment directly from the paying spouse’s paycheck. If the amount of unpaid alimony is large enough, bank accounts, real estate and other property could be seized. Furthermore, the delinquent paying party could be found to be in contempt of court, which would result in fines, attorney’s fees and possibly imprisonment. Generally speaking, it is highly advisable for anyone seeking to enforce a maintenance order to do so with the assistance of an experienced St. Louis family law attorney.

Contact a St. Louis Spousal Maintenance Lawyer Today

If you believe you are entitled to alimony or you believe your spouse may request alimony, you should hire an attorney. Because the court has wide latitude in awarding and setting alimony, a skilled spousal maintenance attorney will be able to make your best case to the judge.

The attorneys of Kilo Flynn have worked on alimony matters throughout Missouri and Illinois, including the City of St. Louis and the Missouri counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin and Crawford, and the Illinois counties of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe. For a free initial consultation to discuss your case, call 314-647-8910.