First, the Court must determine whether or not to award a party spousal maintenance. The next question is the appropriate amount and duration of the maintenance.
Unlike child support, there is no formula that determines what one spouse must pay the other for spousal maintenance. The amount and duration of a maintenance award depends on a number of factors that must be weighed.
Permanent Spousal Maintenance is usually awarded when one spouse is unlikely to become self-supporting. This is measured at the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Usually, but not always, this means a long-term marriage (e.g. 20 years or more), when one spouse is capable of providing financial support, and when the other spouse is incapable of independent support.
A permanent spousal maintenance award is different from a temporary spousal maintenance award in that the payments will last for an indefinite amount of time (until the spouse paying the maintenance makes a motion and the court modifies or terminates the obligation for example, retirement of the paying spouse or their loss of earnings).
There are eight factors the court analyzes when determining if a permanent spousal maintenance award is appropriate:
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance and that spouse’s ability to meet their needs independently;
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to allow the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the spouse’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming partially or fully self-sufficient;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any skills or experience have become outdated and the spouse’s earning capacity has become permanently diminished;
- The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employments that were given up by the spouse seeking permanent spousal maintenance;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking permanent spousal maintenance;
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet their own needs while also meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
- The contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property and the contribution of a spouse as homemaker or in furtherance of the other spouse’s employment or business.
The Court may modify or terminate a permanent maintenance award. This will usually be done if either of the parties experience a change in circumstances which makes the permanent award unreasonable or unfair. It is important to periodically look at the ongoing needs and financial resources of both the party receiving the maintenance award, and the spouse paying spousal maintenance.
Making the case for or against permanent spousal maintenance requires an experienced attorney who will work with you toward achieving your goals. At Clausen & Hassan, our lawyers pride themselves on how they serve our clients. Please reach out today for your free consultation—you can call our office at (651) 647-0087 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.