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Alimony vs. Spousal Support: What is the Difference


Alimony and spousal support are two terms that are often used interchangeably, particularly in the context of divorce proceedings. In Missouri, alimony and spousal support are generally the same, but different kinds of alimony may have different connotations. For example, short-term alimony provides financial support while a spouse looks for gainful employment. Once they have regular income, the court may suspend their spousal support.

Alimony in Missouri

Under Missouri law, alimony is known as "maintenance." It is designed to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living that is reasonably similar to what they enjoyed during the marriage. It is not automatic; the court will consider several factors before awarding maintenance.

These factors include:

  • The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property, are apportioned to their ability to meet their needs independently
  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment
  • The comparative earning capacity of each spouse
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The obligations and assets, including the marital property apportioned to him or her
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • Any other relevant factors

The amount and duration of the support will vary depending on the specifics of each case. In some cases, the court may order temporary maintenance while the divorce is pending.

Do You Need an Attorney for Alimony?

In Missouri, it is also possible for the court to modify the maintenance order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. However, if the spouses agree in writing that maintenance shall be non-modifiable, the court cannot modify the maintenance.

An attorney can provide invaluable assistance when it comes to matters of alimony or spousal support in several ways:

  • Understanding the law: A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand the laws applicable in your state and how they apply to your situation.
  • Negotiation: An attorney can negotiate on your behalf with your spouse (or their lawyer) to reach an agreement on spousal support.
  • Representation in court: If your case goes to court, an attorney can represent you and present your case in the best light possible.
  • Calculation of alimony: An attorney can help ensure that all relevant factors are considered and that the calculation is done correctly.
  • Modification and enforcement: Circumstances can change after a spousal support order is in place. An attorney can assist with seeking a modification of the support order, or if your ex-spouse is not complying with the support order, an attorney can help enforce the order.
  • Paperwork and procedures: An attorney can handle these aspects of the case, ensuring that all documents are completed accurately and submitted promptly.

Remember, every case is unique, and the specific ways an attorney can assist will depend on the circumstances of your situation. It is important to have a detailed conversation with an attorney about your case so they can provide advice tailored to your needs.

If you are considering a divorce, contact our attorney at Pingel Family Law. Our experienced legal team can guide you throughout the filing process and help you pursue the most optimal result. We have helped countless families navigate the uncertain future and are committed to protecting our client’s best interests.

Schedule a consultation with Pingel Family Law.

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