During Missouri divorce proceedings, spousal maintenance, previously called alimony, may be awarded to the spouse with a weak financial picture. The court will review a number of factors to decide whether support is appropriate and, if so, how much is necessary to meet the spouse's needs. Marital misconduct may play a part in the support order, and parties can motion the court to modify support upon the occurrence of certain conditions.
In Missouri, spouses seeking a divorce must pursue the no-fault divorce option. The state does not have fault-based grounds for divorce so parties are basically required to cite irreconcilable differences as the cause for marital breakdown. The court reviews the evidence to decide if the marriage is irretrievably broken, and if so, issues a divorce decree. If not, the court orders a legal separation. If only one spouse wants a divorce and the other objects, the spouse seeking divorce may still obtain one, but only if she can prove adultery, behavior on the part of her spouse that makes living with him unreasonable, abandonment of at least six months, or having lived separate and apart by mutual consent for 12 months, otherwise for 24 months, immediately prior to filing for divorce.
The court may award spousal maintenance to the spouse who is significantly financially disadvantaged by the breakup of the marriage. That spouse must show a lack of sufficient property or financial assets; an inability to be self-supporting through employment; or she is the parent of a child of the marriage making it impracticable to seek employment outside of the home. Factors considered by the court when deciding to grant maintenance include the duration of the marriage and the level of education of the parties, their earning capacities, health and ages.
The court can consider marital misconduct when making a determination of spousal maintenance. Under current Missouri laws, if one spouse voluntary deserts the other during the marriage or refuses to provide for or neglects his spouse, the court may award alimony to cover these damages. Other forms of marital misconduct can affect the final alimony award, including purging marital assets before the divorce or improperly increasing marital debt.
Modification of Support Order
Spousal support orders are not necessarily indefinite in duration and certain situations can result in a reduction, increase or termination of support payments. If either spouse dies, support payments are immediately terminated. Support also terminates if the supported spouse remarries or romantically cohabits with another. Either party can bring a motion in court for a modification of support in the event of a substantial change in circumstances.