One must look to §452.335 for direction concerning maintenance. Maintenance is money that one divorcing spouse pays to the other to aid the receiving spouse in meeting his or her financial needs.
The Court’s judgment will set forth the modifiability of the maintenance award. If it is modifiable, the Court may have the power to change the maintenance award upward, downward or to terminate it upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that arose since the entry of the divorce Judgment. In the event the dissolution Judgment provides that the maintenance award is non-modifiable, the Court does not have the ability to modify the Judgment.
We have represented hundreds of people seeking maintenance and hundreds of people desiring not to pay maintenance. We have worked both sides of the maintenance issue continuously for over twenty-five (25) years. We have a great deal of experience in helping a client who is seeking maintenance to determine his or her true needs so that a clear and concise picture of need can be proffered to the Court to persuade the Court that a maintenance award is not only needed, but mandated by the law.
Conversely, through years of practice, we are able to recognize when a person seeking maintenance has inflated his or her expenses. We have had trials where, through cross-examination of our opponent’s expert, we have proven that the stated need for maintenance was inflated by many times that of the true need.
Together, with you, we will look at the income and expenses of both parties to determine whether a maintenance award is warranted, whether the party expected to pay has the income to pay the maintenance, and the amount of maintenance that is required.
For the person seeking maintenance, an appropriate award is often the only thing that protects the payee from financial disaster. For example, many times our client is a stay at home parent who has spent the last ten years contributing to the household as a homemaker while the other parent brought home the paycheck. We prove to the Court that a party’s role as a stay at home parent and homemaker is valuable labor that contributes to the family. We help our clients persuade the Court, that his or her role as homemaker prevented that party from enhancing a career, and from making contacts in the business world. We employ experts to inform the Court as to our client’s employability, and to the steps necessary to gain, not only employment, but satisfying employment. We do not believe it is appropriate to expect a person, who has devoted his or her work life to raising children and running a house, to work at a menial job while the other spouse moves on with no further responsibility.
Conversely, when we represent the payor, we know where we have to look to find proof that a former spouse, who receives maintenance, is a malingerer. A party that receives maintenance has a mandate to work, to become self-sufficient. We have proven to Courts in the past that some people receiving maintenance have hidden their employment, have hidden their income and/or hidden the fact that they receive support from a paramour.