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The length of spousal support hinges on various circumstances

40164835_S (1).jpgWhen Missouri couples divorce, it is common for there to be an order for spousal support. This is also referred to as alimony and is meant to help one former spouse to make ends meet and maintain a similar lifestyle to what they had during the marriage. For many, a common worry centers around how long the payments will be made.

There are factors that will be considered with the duration of the payments. These payments can be temporary or permanent. A key aspect will be how long the marriage lasted. In general, alimony will be awarded if one party's economic opportunities were negatively impacted by the marriage. If one spouse was a homemaker and the other earned a living, the homemaker's ability to earn on his or her own was compromised by a lack of education and work experience. If there are children, this too will be considered.

The court must decide if the payments will be temporary or permanent. For those who cannot self-support, permanent alimony can be awarded. Whereas gender was once a determinative part of alimony, that is no longer the case. Women and men are treated equally with income, ability to gain employment, earning capacity, child custody, how long they were married, and the amount of time it might take to become financially independent.

Regarding average duration for alimony, the court will likely award it for half to one-third of the marriage's duration. If the marriage lasted for 20 years or more, there could be permanent alimony, contingent on the recipient's age. The need is key. If the spouse cohabitates with another person or remarries, that will result in the alimony being terminated. With alimony, a prenuptual agreement or any family law issue, seeking legal representation may be beneficial.

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