Missouri House Bill could Significantly Change Maintenance Laws

Maintenance is a means of providing for the reasonable financial needs of a spouse who the court decides is unable to meet their own needs.

As it currently stands, maintenance orders are typically modifiable when ordered by the Court, which means maintenance lasts until someone dies, the recipient of maintenance remarries, or there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances resulting in returning to court. The court will take into consideration such factors as the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the time needed to acquire education or training to enable this party to find appropriate employment, the duration of the marriage, and other variables.

A change in spousal maintenance law?

However, a bill stands awaiting a spot on the calendar of the Missouri House of Representatives which would drastically change this method of ordering maintenance. House Bill 247 would put a time limit on the length of time a spouse would be required to pay the other maintenance: in its own words, the bill “Requires all spousal maintenance obligations to termination five years after the date of entry of the court’s order if the obligor is current on all maintenance payments.”

In effect, the bill proposes that the spouse charged with paying maintenance be no longer required to pay after five years have elapsed from when the order was made, provided they have made all the required maintenance payments to that point.

The bill contains an amendment, however, which states if the spouse which is receiving maintenance is unable to provide for themselves due to physical or mental incapacitation, the court can order the maintenance to be extended past the five year mark.

Voting on the bill may take a while since no hearing has been scheduled and the bill is not at this time on a House calendar.

If you are divorcing or separating and maintenance is on the table, speak with our St. Louis and St. Charles family law attorneys and during your free case evaluation, we can explain your rights and lay out all your legal options.