In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation . . . the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: (a) lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse considering the standard of living established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of training or education, or (b) is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. [The statute is very poorly worded — we did not write it]. At the end of the day, an award of spousal maintenance generally involves a balancing between the needs of the spouse who is seeking the spousal maintenance; and the ability of the spouse from whom the maintenance is sought to pay it.
There are two types of spousal maintenance – permanent, and temporary or rehabilitative. Generally speaking permanent maintenance is awarded in longer term marriages where one of the spouses has been out of the workforce for a significant period of time and has little ability to become self-supporting. According to the maintenance statute, if the Court has any question with regard to whether a permanent award of spousal maintenance is appropriate the Court is supposed to award permanent maintenance subject to future modification.
Rehabilitative maintenance is more frequently awarded in situations where there is a disparity between the parties’ incomes; but the party receiving the maintenance has the ability to enhance her earning capacity by obtaining additional training, or is only temporarily unable to meet her expenses.
Vocational evaluations conducted by a vocational expert are frequently used if there is a question with regard to a party’s earning capacity.
A spousal maintenance award typically terminates when the recipient remarries.
The Nygaard & Longe Law Office has successfully litigated spousal maintenance cases on both the trial court and appellate levels.
We have also obtained favorable results for mothers in marital dissolution and custody proceedings.