If you are involved in a divorce in Kansas, you might have serious concerns about your financial future. If you were the primary breadwinner during the marriage, you might have justifiable concerns that a judge’s award of alimony will diminish your standard of living or impair your ability to support a new family. A spouse whose primary financial responsibilities involved taking care of the family home and children might be anxious about his or her ability to become financially self-sufficient.
Alimony (also referred to as “maintenance” or “spousal maintenance”) is designed to remedy the financial inequality between spouses where one spouse has been the primary breadwinner, and the other spouse has limited earning ability because of sacrifices made in terms of education, work experience and career opportunities. Because the issue of maintenance is one of the most critical issues in a Kansas marital dissolution, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What factors do judges consider when determining an award of spousal maintenance?
The court will consider a range of factors when attempting to correct economic imbalances between spouses in terms of their earning capacity and standard of living. Factors that Kansas courts will evaluate when determining whether to grant alimony and determine the amount include the following:
- Health of each spouse
- Ages of the parties
- Agreement between the spouses that maintenance is appropriate
- Existing and future financial needs of each spouse
- Employment experience, career training and education of each spouse
- Family responsibilities and obligation of either spouse
- Relative earning capacity of each party currently and in the future
- Length of the marriage and relationship of the spouses
- Ability of each spouse to provide for his or her financial needs based on their financial resources and abilities
- Financial necessity of resources for education to become self-supporting
- Ability of the financially advantaged spouse to pay
- Need of the financially disadvantaged spouse
If you are involved in a divorce where maintenance will be an issue, you need an experienced Kansas divorce lawyer with experience gathering and presenting evidence on these factors. Kansas law does not impose any sort of formula as to how these factors should be weighed or evaluated, so judges have wide discretion when making alimony orders.
Will alimony be awarded in all Kansas divorces?
While alimony is not an absolute right that is ordered in all marital dissolutions, the most important consideration is the ability of the higher earning spouse to pay and the financial need of the financially disadvantaged. The award must be just, equitable and fair given the circumstances with consideration given to the factors indicated above.
How long will the obligation to pay alimony be imposed?
Under Kansas law, a court may not make an additional alimony order that exceeds 121 months. The spouse who is awarded maintenance may petition to extend the award for up to another 121 month period after the first period has ended. Some counties have established formulas for tying the duration of spousal support to the length of the marriage.
Can either spouse seek modification of a maintenance order?
While the court can modify a prior alimony order, the party seeking the modification must establish a “substantial change of circumstances.” Evidence offered in support of a modification must relate to a change in the ability to pay, such as reduced income or loss of employment. The court may not modify alimony downward absent agreement of the paying spouse.
If you have questions about maintenance in Kansas, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions. We invite you to call us at (316) 265-7802 or submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.