How is the award of spousal support determined in Missouri?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

That one spouse may be awarded support from the other in a divorce in Missouri is common knowledge. Questions may arise about how the court determines spousal support obligations. Someone being ordered to pay spousal support will wonder what safeguards are in place to ensure that a spousal support award is not arbitrary?

The answer to this question is found in Missouri statutory law. Section 452.335 of the Missouri Revised Statutes requires the court to consider several factors in calculating an award of spousal support. These criteria are broken down into two general areas: whether a spouse is entitled to support and, if so, how the amount is to be determined.

Is a spouse entitled to spousal support?

The governing statute directs the court to consider before it makes an award of support whether or not the spouse seeking it has enough property to provide for his or her reasonable needs, is able to support him or her through employment, and whether his or her obligations in connection with child custody make it impractical to seek outside employment.

What factors are considered in an award of support?

The statute identifies several items for the court to consider in the determination of spousal support. These include but are not limited to:

  • What were the earning abilities of each spouse during the marriage? What was their standard of living? How long were they married?
  • What were the assets and obligations of the spouses? What property comprised marital assets?
  • How old is the spouse seeking support? Does he or she have any physical or emotional conditions that might affect the need for support?
  • What are the financial resources of the party seeking support, and his or her ability to independently meet his or her needs (this calculation can include amounts awarded in connection with child support)?
  • Will the spouse seeking support need to go to school to gain education or training for purposes of seeking employment?
  • How well will the spouse from whom support is sought be able to meet his or her own needs while paying support?

Given the case-by-case nature of spousal support determinations, this post cannot cover all possible scenarios and outcomes, and should not be considered as legal advice. If you need more information, it is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney.

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