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When and why does the court award spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, is a legal obligation imposed on one spouse which is paid to a spouse or former spouse for his or her support. The trial court has broad discretion when determining whether to award spousal maintenance and how much to award, meaning spousal maintenance determinations are unique to each case.

Kansas courts consider several factors when determining whether to award spousal maintenance, including:

  • The age of the parties;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The needs of the recipient spouse;
  • The ability of the payor spouse to pay;
  • The present and prospective earning capacities of the parties;
  • The property owned by the parties; and the overall financial condition of the parties.

The court may also consider the health of the parties, ability to work, time necessary to acquire additional job skills and the standard of living during the marriage.

Spousal maintenance can endure temporarily or permanently and will terminate upon the occurrence of certain events. If the court orders temporary maintenance, temporary maintenance payments cease when the divorce action is completed. If the court orders permanent maintenance, maintenance may only be awarded for a term of up to 121 months, or 10 years.

Maintenance will also terminate upon death of either party, remarriage of the recipient or, if the divorce decree so provides, cohabitation of the recipient.