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Spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony or spousal support, is a monetary payment awarded to a former spouse after a marriage ends. The purpose of maintenance is to provide a former spouse with a standard of living post-marriage that is similar or equivalent to the standard of living experienced during the marriage. Maintenance can be awarded on a short or long term basis depending on the circumstances.

Requirements in place

The state of Kentucky has strict requirements for when maintenance can be awarded. Judges will only grant maintenance to a former spouse when two conditions are met.

  • The former spouse lacks sufficient property to be self supporting, taking into consideration marital property divided during the divorce; and also
  • The former spouse is unable to be self supporting through appropriate employment or is the custodial parent of a child whose needs make it inappropriate for the parent to work outside of the home.

Amount and duration factors

During the divorce proceedings a judge may award a temporary maintenance order for a spouse and then make a permanent order once the divorce is finalized. The permanent maintenance order can be short or long term, but in most cases maintenance is not supposed to last indefinitely. The maintenance award should give the former spouse a chance to make adjustments and become financially self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time.

When determining an appropriate amount for maintenance the judge will consider each parties financial resources. The spouse from whom maintenance is being sought must be able to meet their own needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance. Other factors include the age and health of the spouse seeking maintenance, the length of the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage.

Recent maintenance tax changes

The new tax law changes spousal maintenance deductions. Under the new law, maintenance cannot be deducted by the payer and the recipient does not have to pay taxes on maintenance received. The new maintenance tax law will not impact current maintenance agreements; it is only applicable for divorces that commence after December 31, 2018.

Income disparity which places one spouse at a financial disadvantage is the most common reason maintenance is awarded. For stay-at-home parents and non working spouses, the financial ramifications of divorce can be particularly harrowing. Maintenance may be a way to preserve the economic status of both spouses.