After a couple decides to get a divorce, the issue of continuing financial obligations often arises. If the divorcing couple has children, there are likely to be child support payments following the separation. In addition, if one spouse earns more than the other, he or she may be ordered to make spousal maintenance payments after the divorce.
Historically, these payments were generally made by men to wives who had taken on the responsibility of working in the home and raising a family while they were married. These days, as more women are in the workforce, a rising number of women have become responsible for making spousal maintenance payments to their former husbands.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in homes in which both spouses worked, 28 percent of women earned more than their husbands in 2011 -an over 10 percent increase from 1987. In addition, there are an increasing number of households in which the wives are the only wage earners, as a larger number of men are taking time to raise the family. In total, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that almost 38 percent of households in the U.S. had wives who earned more than their husbands, including homes in which the wife was the sole wage earner.
The amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments varies by state, as some state laws continue to allow permanent spousal support while others have abolished the practice.
Spousal Maintenance in Missouri
Both men and women can be ordered to make spousal maintenance payments in Missouri. Under Missouri law, the court can determine whether the maintenance payments will be permanent or end on a particular date. There are a number of factors the court can consider to determine the duration of the spousal maintenance payments and the amount the spouse will be ordered to pay after the divorce. For instance, the court will consider the “financial resources” of the party seeking payments and whether he or she is able to meet those financial needs on his or her own. In addition, it may be necessary for a spouse to return to school and receive training to find suitable employment.
Some of the other factors the court can consider include:
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age of the spouse seeking payments
- The physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking payments
- The behavior of the parties while they were married
When a couple is divorcing, it is wise for both parties to consult with a skilled family law attorney to ensure their rights are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.