A component of many divorce cases is spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is the financial obligation that one spouse must pay the other to support them before, during, and after a divorce is final. While movies and reality television paint a picture of spousal maintenance, there is more to understand than what’s portrayed on the big and silver screens.
If you’re in the divorce process or if you’re considering it, there are a few things you should understand about spousal maintenance. While the divorce attorney you hire to represent you will go over specifics related to your case, the family law attorneys at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC want to explain a few things that pertain to nearly every case. Continue reading to learn 4 things you should know about spousal maintenance.
1. There are different types
Spousal maintenance doesn’t just simply take effect following a divorce. There are three different types of spousal maintenance that a judge will consider in Missouri: temporary, periodic, and permanent. There are three types of spousal maintenance in Kansas as well: temporary, short-term, or long-term.
Temporary spousal maintenance is a financial obligation that a higher-earning spouse must pay the other spouse before their divorce is finalized. It allows the receiving spouse to have an income to afford certain expenses during their separation before the divorce is final. Temporary spousal maintenance is ordered when one spouse files a motion requesting it.
Short-term or periodic
Short-term maintenance may be ordered by the courts if the spouse with the lower income only needs support for a certain amount of time. The court will award short-term maintenance in cases where the lower-earning spouse is finishing their education, job searching, or any other factor that deems them able to support themselves following the divorce.
Long-term or permanent
Long-term spousal maintenance isn’t awarded often and is rare in both Missouri and Kansas. It’s ordered when one spouse is unable to become self-supporting whether it be due to health issues, disabilities, or the fact that they haven’t been in the workforce for most of the duration of the marriage.
2. It’s gender-neutral
While Hollywood often depicts the recipient of spousal maintenance to be females only, it’s gender-neutral. It doesn’t matter if it’s same-sex marriage or marriage involving a man and a woman; spousal maintenance can be awarded to either gender. Men make up a majority of those paying spousal maintenance, however, with more women in the workforce, the amount of men receiving alimony has increased.
3. Tax laws have changed
Before January 1, 2019, it used to be that alimony/spousal maintenance was able to be deducted in taxes by the payee, and the one receiving the payments was taxed on the income. However, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed those previous rules for all divorcees; now, the alimony/spousal maintenance payee cannot deduct payments on their taxes and the recipient doesn’t need to include them in their reported income. Ultimately, the payee will be taxed on the income according to their tax bracket.
4. The court considers several things before ordering it
The decision to order spousal maintenance is affected by several different things. For one, the court will consider the duration of the marriage. Oftentimes, spousal maintenance is ordered in higher amounts for those that were married for longer periods, especially if the receiving spouse didn’t or wasn’t able to work outside of the home.
Next, misconduct in a divorce case can affect spousal maintenance. Depending on the judge and the type of proof you have that your spouse has been deceitful, hidden money, or has been abusive, they may configure alimony/spousal maintenance differently than if a spouse was not shown or proven to be guilty of misconduct.
Other considerations for ordering spousal maintenance include, but are not limited to, the following: property division, the income of each spouse, the age and health of each spouse, if either spouse left the workforce to raise children, the standard of living during the marriage, etc.
While there are many components to spousal maintenance, the 4 things above are standard things you should know in any divorce case. Every divorce is different, so it’s important to note that the result of a friend or family member’s divorce involving spousal maintenance will be different from your unique situation. A family law attorney can help you understand your case and will ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.
If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Lee’s Summit or a child custody attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas.