When a court in Kansas issues a divorce decree, it also has the ability to award to either party an allowance for alimony, also known as spousal maintenance. The purpose of this allowance is to enable one spouse to keep a standard of living accustomed to during the marriage and to make up for a disparity in earning potential. It is often a contentious issue in divorces, specifically since Kansas does not provide a set formula for determining the amount or duration of spousal maintenance payments. If you are facing a dispute relating to spousal support, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney such as the advocates at Burke McClasky Stevens in the Kansas City area.
An award of spousal support is purely within a court\'s discretion in Kansas. No spouse has an absolute right to receive maintenance payments, and the primary consideration for the court is the need of one spouse to receive support the ability of the other spouse to pay. In analyzing earning capacity, courts will look at the paying spouse\'s earning capacity, taking into account the seasonal nature of employment and the likelihood of continued income in the future. A court may impute income to a party if he or she is deliberately unemployed or underemployed and consider the potential and probable earnings based on historical earnings of the parties, their educations, and unique skills or qualifications.
Courts look at various factors in determining whether to award spousal support and whether that award is fair, just and equitable under all of the circumstances. These factors include the following:
- The age of the parties;
- The parties\' present and future earning potential;
- The length of the marriage;
- The property owned by the parties;
- The parties\' needs at the time;
- The sources and manner of acquisition of property;
- Family ties and obligations of the parties, including children;
- The parties\' overall financial condition;
- Whether one spouse contributed to the education or career of the other spouse during the marriage;
- Dissipation of marital assets by one or both parties;
- Various Rehabilitation issues, such as:
- The retraining or educational needs of one or both of the parties;
- The number of years a party has been absent from the job market and the reasons for the absence;
- The parties\' skills and ability to re-enter the job market; and
- Unusual or unique health or medical needs.
An award of spousal support may be for temporary, short-term, or long-term support. The court will not order maintenance payments to continue longer than 121 months unless one spouse files a special motion. Additionally, the fault of either party is not a factor for consideration in determining whether spousal support is justified or the amount or duration thereof, and spousal support should never be ordered for punitive reasons.
The amount of spousal support awarded by the court will vary depending on each spouse’s income and whether the receiving spouse needs additional education or job training. The paying spouse will usually pay support in monthly installments, and in a few cases, as a lump sum. Kansas requires all spousal support orders be paid through a central collection unit unless both spouses agree otherwise in writing. The receiving spouse can also enforce a spousal support order by asking the paying spouse’s employer to withhold income from his or her paycheck.
If you are facing a spousal support issue in the Kansas City area, Burke McClasky Stevens is ready to serve you. Our law firm has provided effective representation to clients in Kansas City and the surrounding areas, including Johnson, Clay, Platte, and Ray Counties. You may contact us for an initial consultation by calling (913) 242-7522. We will take the time to listen, analyze your case, and tailor a cost-effective strategy that protects your interests.