A Court can award a party spousal maintenance if it determines that one or more of the following apply to that party:
1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
2. Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
3. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
Once the Court determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate, it must determine the amount and length of time spousal maintenance should be paid. This is in the Court’s discretion and it is, therefore, difficult to say with certainty what a Judge may order in any particular case. However, the Court must look at a number of statutory factors in arriving at its decision regarding the amount and length of spousal maintenance. The Court is required to consider all relevant factors and specifically the following factors:
1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
2. The duration of the marriage.
3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
9. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
10. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
12. The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.
In determining the amount of spousal maintenance, the most important consideration is the disparity in the parties’ incomes and the ability of the party seeking spousal maintenance to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage without spousal maintenance. In determining the length of time spousal maintenance is to be paid, the most relevant considerations are usually the amount of time needed for a party to be able to earn enough to be self-sufficient without spousal maintenance and whether the party’s employment and career opportunities were reduced during the marriage for reasons benefitting the other party. However, it should be remembered that spousal maintenance is meant to be temporary and provided only to assist a party until he/she can support him/herself through their own employment and any other available income.
If you would like more information on whether or not you may qualify for spousal maintenance, please contact us at 480-222-5662, to schedule a free consultation.