Should Spousal Maintenance be ordered in your divorce? Can both parties provide for their own needs? Can the would-be payer afford their own needs while also paying maintenance? Is the would-be recipient capable of providing for their own needs, even if they are unemployed or under-employed? The questions involved in this issue require a great deal of analysis as this issue is hard fought in every divorce.
Temporary spousal maintenance is often awarded as a part of a plan for the receiving spouse to re-train in a new career, become re-qualified to return to prior work, or to re-enter the workforce after a period of unemployment. Temporary maintenance, as its name suggests, is awarded for a set period of time as a means of easing a significant life transition. Under the law, the parties can agree to make the spousal maintenance award un-modifiable regardless of future changes in circumstances.
In some situations, permanent maintenance is paid until the receiving spouse either remarries or dies. While there is no initial term for permanent maintenance, the amount or duration of these payments may be modified if new circumstances, such as an injury or loss of employment, arise that affect the parties’ income and financial status. Consequently, a divorce order may permit for the modification of spousal maintenance.
In preparing clients' spousal maintenance claims, we carefully identify the monthly expenses and needs of both parties along with their incomes and earning capacities. If we believe that one party is under-employed or capable of an income greater than what they are claiming, we require them to submit to a vocational assessment so that an expert may attest to their earning capacity in our local labor market.
Mediation is frequently utilized as a means of resolving spousal maintenance disputes. The same arguments that will serve the clients in presenting their claims to a judge at trial can be used in mediation to encourage an agreement. The goal, in court or mediation, is to secure spousal maintenance terms that best serve the client and their family.