In determining a spousal maintenance, or alimony, award, a court must look at eighth (8) statutory factors related to the financial resources of the parties.  It is not always essential that a court look just what the parties’ earnings are. Of those factors that a court will look at, the primary factor is the needs of the spouse seeking the maintenance award, provided those needs are not totally inconsistent with the standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage, and the spouse’s ability to meet those needs, balanced against the ability of the spouse from whom the maintenance award is sought. In considering the resources of both the party seeking the award, and the party being asked to pay the award, the court must look at the division of assets and debt that is resulting from the parties’ divorce. So, a spouse who is left with sufficient assets to cover his or her needs following the divorce, may not be entitled to a maintenance award.  Similarly, a spouse cannot artificially increase or inflate his or her standard of living after separation, and expect that a court will award him or her maintenance so as to finance that lifestyle. Nor is it always necessary that the party seeking maintenance prove with certainty the precise amount of his or her spouse’ earnings.  In many case a self-employed person shows very little net earnings after paying the costs and expenses of running a business.  The courts are well aware of the opportunities for self-employed persons to support him or herself, yet report a negligible income, and therefore the court have looked to such things as lifestyle of the self-employed person as being evidence of his her ability to pay maintenance. Finally, where there is any uncertainty as to a spouse’s ability to become self-supporting, and therefore ineligible for a maintenance award, the court is required to order permanent spousal maintenance, which leaves the maintenance award open for modification.  In those situations it is important to periodically look at the ongoing needs and financial resources of both the party receiving the maintenance award, and the one obligated to pay.  It is within the power of the court to modify or terminate a permanent maintenance award.

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