Some people who want to get divorced think that alimony or spousal maintenance obligations are automatic. If they stayed home to raise the children or take care of the family home, they assume that the Missouri family courts will order alimony from their spouse.
While that may be true of child support, it is not the case for alimony. To receive maintenance as a dependent spouse, you will need to make a formal claim as part of your divorce proceedings.
Not only will you need to ask the courts for maintenance, but you will also have to show that you need the support and that your spouse has the ability to pay it. Not every divorce will end with the courts ordering one spouse to pay maintenance to the other. When can you request maintenance as part of your divorce proceedings?
Maintenance is only available if you can’t support yourself
While you may not be able to enjoy the same standard of living that you had during your marriage, you could potentially have enough personal property or current income to live independently without spousal support.
You will need to look at your earning potential, your assets and other considerations, like the custody of your minor children, to determine if the judge presiding over your divorce is likely to award you maintenance.
Short-term maintenance to help you cover your expenses while you pursue an education or take entry-level jobs to re-establish your work history may be more likely than permanent. Only in cases of a spouse having serious health issues that permanently affect their ability to support themselves or other scenarios that leave someone unable to meet their own basic financial needs will the courts consider permanent or long-lasting alimony.
What about an agreement in your prenup?
If you and your spouse executed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that establishes certain standards for spousal support or requires alimony payments as compensation for marital misconduct like infidelity, you may have grounds to request alimony in your divorce even if you otherwise would not qualify for it.
Understanding state law and any contracts that will influence your divorce will help you better predict what spousal maintenance and other forms of support you can count on during your divorce proceedings.