Spousal Maintenance may be awarded in cases where one spouse is providing financial support to the other spouse during the marriage or partnership. The court will consider and balance one person’s need for support against the other person’s ability to pay support. Spousal Maintenance can be requested immediately upon filing a petition for dissolution or separation. The court may issue a temporary order to provide support immediately pending the outcome of the dissolution or separation action. Spousal Maintenance may also be awarded long term as part of the final decree of dissolution or separation. Ongoing spousal Maintenance is not typically ordered in marriages or partnerships that are shorter in duration. Generally, a short term marriage is one that is five years or less. A mid-term marriage or partnership is one that is between six and twenty years. A long term marriage or partnership is one that is longer than twenty years.
Temporary Maintenance. Spousal maintenance may be ordered on a temporary basis regardless of the length of the marriage if one party has the need for maintenance and the other party has the ability to pay maintenance. Whenever one spouse or partner is financially dependent on the other person, temporary maintenance is appropriate when the relationship ends and the parties separate. There are many scenarios where the need for temporary maintenance arises. If one party stays home to care for the parties’ child or children and is not employed outside the home, that person will require financial support for a period of time pending final resolution. Similarly, if one person earns substantially less than the other party and separation will result in that person being unable to support themselves financially, the court may award spousal maintenance on a temporary basis to facilitate a transition from being supported to being financially independent.
Ongoing spousal maintenance. The court will consider several factors when deciding whether spousal maintenance will be ordered long term. Those factors include the length of the marriage or relationship; the education and training of both people; the standard of living established during the marriage or relationship; and the age, physical and emotional condition and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and, the other person’s ability to meet their own financial needs while also paying spousal maintenance. There is nothing in the law that states how long spousal maintenance should be awarded and at what rate it should be paid. Every case is unique when determining how much maintenance is necessary and for how long. If the parties are near retirement age, the court may seek to equalize their incomes until they reach retirement age. If the parties are younger and the supported spouse can attend school or receive other training to become self supporting, the maintenance may be limited to accomplish that goal.
It is important that you have an experienced attorney representing you at every stage of the proceedings if you require support.