Alimony, which is called “maintenance” in the state of Missouri, is an award made by the court requiring one spouse to provide financial assistance to the other spouse after divorce. This is support for the spouse and is distinct from child support. There is no specific formula for deciding if one spouse will get alimony, but Missouri statutes outline the general requirements a court must follow when deciding on an award of maintenance.

First, the court will determine if the spouse seeking maintenance has a need for it in light of his or her property and income. The first step is to determine the reasonable needs of the spouse seeking maintenance, which are usually set forth on a court-approved income and expense form. However, the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance must be reasonable—the court might not order one spouse to maintain the other’s lavish lifestyle.

Once the reasonable needs of the spouse seeking maintenance are determined, the court looks to see if that spouse has sufficient income from income-producing property or employment to meet those needs. The court generally expects that each spouse will work and contribute to his or her own needs, but the spouse’s needs may still exceed his or her income.

If the court finds that a spouse has a need that cannot be met on his or her own, the court will then look to a variety of factors to determine the appropriateness, amount and duration of a maintenance award, including: the financial resources of each party, the time necessary to obtain training or education to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the comparative earning capacities of the spouses, the standard of living established during the marriage, the obligations and assets of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, the age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance, the ability of the non-seeking spouse to pay for his or her own needs, and the conduct of the spouses during the marriage.

Overall, the court has a lot of discretion over requests for maintenance, and it can be very difficult to predict the outcome. If you are planning to divorce and have questions about your eligibility for alimony, you should speak to an experienced lawyer to discuss your prospects for maintenance.

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