Some newer lawyers have advised clients that maintenance, or what used to be called “alimony,” is a thing of the past, a relic of days gone by when women stayed at home and men were the sole breadwinners. This is an oversimplification. And it’s wrong advice. Maintenance remains alive and well in Missouri. Dan Pingelton has advised and won maintenance for many of his clients, both women and men.
There are a number of factors court will consider when awarding maintenance. The “big” ones are:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial resources of each spouse
- The comparative earning capacity of each spouse
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
There are other factors as well, such as the conduct of the parties during the marriage. These are always very fact-specific cases, and judges have wide discretion for their decisions in whether to order maintenance, and if so, how much and for how long.
Some cases qualify for “rehabilitative maintenance.” This is maintenance for a limited duration; for example, to allow a spouse to return to school to obtain a degree and become employable and self-supporting.
What about maintenance and child support? Because they are each a payment of money, they are always interconnected. For example, child support is neither taxable to the recipient nor deductible by the payor. But maintenance is taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payor. With help from capable counsel, financial packages can be developed that create a win-win for higher income folks, maximizing tax advantages for everyone. Regardless of income levels, child support calculations require maintenance payments to be considered. For this reason alone, it is foolish not to carefully review all of these financial considerations.
Here are some examples from maintenance cases Dan Pingelton has handled:
Case One: The couple was married for three years. Wife’s attorney insisted that Husband should pay maintenance to her because Husband was unfaithful. We represented the Husband, and successfully argued that the marriage was simply too short, and the earning capacities too similar, to award any maintenance.
Case Two: Dan Pingelton represented Wife, who married the same man three times. Their third marriage to each other lasted only one year. Husband’s attorney argued at trial that the marriage was too short to qualify for maintenance. We won that case with a maintenance order for Wife, convincing the court that while that marriage was short, the couple had a long history together through two prior marriages, and that this fact warranted maintenance. The court agreed with us.
Case Three: Wife stayed home to raise the couples’ three children while Husband completed medical school and grew a profitable practice in mid-Missouri. Husband’s attorney argued that Wife herself had a Ph.D and was capable of earning close to a six-figure salary. Dan Pingelton was honored to represent Wife and obtain for her a child support and maintenance package that equaled about 60% of Husband’s disposable income. The turning point in this case came after a thorough investigation of Husband’s other activities. There were hard feelings all around after Husband was finally forced to pay significant sums to Wife. But, fortunately, more than fifteen years later, the parties are all doing well. The children are grown and have a good relationship with both their mom and dad. The parents are civil toward each other. They have each moved on and are both financially stable. This would not have happened without a legally sufficient maintenance order years ago.