No one wants to pay maintenance to their ex-spouse. However, it is common for a Judge to award maintenance to a spouse of a long term marriage where the bread winner spouse earns substantially more than the homemaker spouse.
First, the court must consider whether or not the party seeking maintenance has sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to her, to provide for her reasonable needs and can support herself.
After that threshold finding, the amount is determined with consideration to the financial resources of the parties, time necessary for the awardee to get job training, the comparative earning capacities, marital standard of living, length of the marriage, parties’ obligations and assets, condition of awardee, ability of one party to support himself while meeting his spouse’s needs, conduct of the parties, and other relevant factors. No magical formula exists for this calculation.
In order to further a client’s desire to avoid paying maintenance, there generally has to be an offer of a disproportionate amount of marital property to the less employment advantaged spouse. Or an offer of higher child support than the guidelines provide. Or both. Or a generous offer of non-modifiable maintenance.
It is critical to have the advice of an experienced lawyer to determine maintenance settlement options and what a judge is likely to determine in the event of trial. Each case involves a unique analysis and the knowledge of the parties’ wishes and financial resources.