Spousal support, alimony, and maintenance are different words for the same thing. The legal system prefers to use the word maintenance. Maintenance is where one spouse will pay another spouse money after a divorce has been finalized to help the receiving spouse adjust to a different level of income. Maintenance can also be ordered during the time period after separation and before a divorce is finalized as a means of temporary maintenance.
Alimony can be ordered to be paid regardless of the gender of the parties; a woman could be ordered to pay a man alimony, a man could be ordered to pay a woman and in the situation of same sex marriages, the man can be ordered to pay the man maintenance and the woman could be ordered to pay the woman maintenance.
The only requirement for the courts to consider the issue of spousal support is that the individuals must have been married.
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Kansas is one of two states that limits how long an ex-spouse is required to pay spousal support. Spousal support is limited to 121 months with a one-time extension of no more than 121 months. Parties can agree between themselves for a longer period of time.
The courts may award an allowance for future support in an amount that the court determines to be fair, just and equitable. The court can also make the modification of maintenance retroactive to a date at least one month after the date that the motion to modify was filed with the court. However, the motion to modify maintenance must be filed before the expiration of maintenance or the court will not have jurisdiction.
Maintenance can be a lump sum, periodic payments based on a percentage of earnings or on any other basis. After a reasonable notice to the party affected a hearing will be held in which the court may modify the amounts or other conditional factors for the payment of any portion of the maintenance that was originally awarded that has not been paid, but no modification can be made without the consent of the party responsible for paying maintenace if the modification will effect by increasing or accelerating the amount due for the unpaid portion of maintenance over and above what was ordered in the original decree.
Payment for spousal support should be paid through the central unit for collection, Kansas Payment Center (KPC), and disbursement of support payments pursuant to K>S>A> 23-4,118 unless the parties agree in a written agreement to make direct payments.
- Parties can agree on the amount and duration of spousal support.
- Spousal support is not automatic in divorces or separations. Spousal support is decided by the judge and is based on a set of factors.
- Things that are considered by the court include:
- How long the parties were married
- What the standard of living was during the marriage
- The age, health and emotional situation of the parties
- Financial situation of both parties
- Contributions of each party to the marriage
- How long it will take to receive training and/or find employment
- The effect paying spousal support will be on the financial situation of the person required to pay spousal support
Maintenance could be ordered as a one-time payment or could be ordered to be made in several payments for a specified period of time. Spousal support could be ordered as a percentage of earnings or “on any other basis.” Monthly alimony payments are the most common form of alimony.
Maintenance stops when either one of the spouses die or if the receivng spouse remarries.
Guidelines do exist in Johnson County Kansas in regards to spousal support. It suggests that spousal support could be calculated as follows:
- 25% of the difference of the spouse’s gross annual income
- If the difference in gross annual income is greater than $50,000 it is calcuated at 25% PLUS 22% of the remaining difference
John gross income is $130,000
Mary gross income is $50,000
In this example, spousal support would be calculated as follows: $50,000 x 25% = $12,500 PLUS $30,000 x 22% = $6,600 resulting in an alimony amount of $19,100.
Johnson County’s guidelines also suggests a calculation as to how long alimony will be paid.
Marriages lasting less than five years may have alimony awarded by the length of the marriage divided by 2.5. Example: A marriage lasting 4 years would have alimony lasting 1.6 months.
Marriages lasting greater than 5 years may have alimony calculated at 2 years plus 1/3 of the length of the marriage. Example: A marriage that lasted 9 years would have alimony ordered to last 2 years PLUS 9 divided by 3 = 3 for a total of 5 years.
Alimony could be ordered by the court for:
- Interim Support: During the time period between separation and divorce becoming finalized (temporary spousal support)
- Reimbursement Support: To reimburse one of the spouses for the other spouse’s education
- Transitional Support: To allow one of the two spouses to obtain an education to obtain gainful employment
- General Support: To allow one of the two spouses to pay for a variance in income to allow the lower paid spouse to adapt financially.
Having an attorney that is familiar with Kansas maintenance laws can make a huge difference in how stressful your divorce and ultimately resolution of spousal support can be in your situation. If you are the spouse paying spousal support or the spouse that is receiving spousal support we will work with you to understand spousal support in Kansas