The court may grant spousal maintenance to either spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable needs, considering the standard of living established during the marriage, or
- Is unable to provide adequate self-support, considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
The amount and duration of any spousal maintenance award takes the following factors into account:
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party, and the party’s ability to meet needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian;
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the party’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage and, if applicable, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience have become outmoded and earning capacity has become permanently diminished;
- The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
- The age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
- The contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party’s employment or business.
In addition to those factors, the law is not to be construed to favor a temporary award of maintenance over a permanent award, where the above factors justify a permanent award.
Where there is some uncertainty as to the necessity of a permanent award, the court orders a permanent award leaving its order open for later modification.
If a claim for spousal maintenance is being made in your divorce, you should seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney as the value of these claims is often very high and the nuances of the law are very complex.