The purpose of spousal maintenance (commonly known as “alimony”) is to provide for the future support of a divorced spouse. In Kansas and Missouri, the courts have wide discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, yet many courts have local rules and guidelines for awarding spousal maintenance.

What the Court Considers When Awarding Maintenance

Kansas Spousal Maintenance

In Kansas, a court may award spousal maintenance to a divorced spouse in an amount the court finds to be fair, just and equitable under all of the circumstances. The issue of whether spousal maintenance should be awarded, and what amount should be awarded, depends on the recipient spouse’s needs and the payor spouse’s ability to pay maintenance. Kansas courts consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:  (1) the age of the parties; (2) the parties’ present and prospective earning capabilities; (3) the length of the marriage; (4) the property owned by the parties; (5) the parties’ needs; (6) the time, source, and manner of acquisition of property; (7) family ties and obligations; and (8) the parties’ overall financial situation. In any event, in Kansas, unlike in Missouri, spousal maintenance may not be awarded beyond a duration of 10 years in Kansas. Further, in Kansas, unlike in Missouri, a party’s marital fault is not a factor considered by the court when determining spousal maintenance.

Missouri Spousal Maintenance

In Missouri, a court may only award spousal maintenance if the court finds: (1) the spouse lack sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs, and (2) the party is unable to support himself of herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. In determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, the courts consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to: (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 452.335)

  1. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian;
  2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;
  3. The comparative earning capacity of each spouse;
  4. The standard of living established during the marriage;
  5. The obligations and assets, including the marital property apportioned to him and the separate property of each party;
  6. The duration of the marriage;
  7. The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  8. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  9. The conduct of the parties during the marriage; and
  10. Any other relevant factors.

For parties requesting spousal maintenance or defending a request for spousal maintenance, a proposed maintenance calculation worksheet is required. This worksheet will typically outline each parties’ gross annual domestic income and figure a percentage of the difference of the incomes as the proposed monthly or yearly spousal maintenance amount.

Kansas and Missouri could not be further apart with respect to the laws governing spousal maintenance and how each is calculated.

For example, in Kansas the maximum term for a spousal maintenance award is 10 years, regardless of the length of marriage.

In Missouri, permanent maintenance orders are not uncommon.

This means if you are dissolving a long term-marriage in in Missouri with a substantial difference in party incomes there is a chance you could be paying or receiving lifetime spousal maintenance. Further, each county within each state, and sometimes each judge or division within each county will have its own set of guidelines intended to calculate and determine spousal maintenance awards.

It is important to hire an attorney who knows not only the law and the local rules or guidelines, but the tendencies of the judge presiding over your case. The family law attorneys at Norton Hare have a wealth of experience handling spousal maintenance issues in both Kansas and Missouri and help tailor your case to comply with the rules or requirements of each judicial district.

Modification of Spousal Maintenance

If you experience significant and continuing changes in financial circumstances, such as major changes in income or financial resources, such changes may warrant modifying an original award of spousal maintenance.

In Kansas, a court may modify the amounts or other conditions for the payment of spousal maintenance originally awarded that has not already become due when there has been a material change in circumstances, but unless the party who is obligated to pay spousal maintenance consents, a modification cannot have the effect of increasing or accelerating the liability for the unpaid maintenance beyond what was prescribed in the original award.

In Missouri, an order for spousal maintenance may be modified only upon a showing of a change of circumstances so substantial and continuing that the terms of the existing order is now unreasonable.

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