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Kansas Alimony

Spousal maintenance, aka alimony, simply means the financial support of a spouse.  Spousal maintenance payments are intended for the purpose of rehabilitating one spouse financially to equalize the impact of separation.  Spousal maintenance will typically come into play when one spouse earns greater income than the other spouse and the marriage is not a short-term marriage.  Spousal maintenance is frequently ordered in divorces regarding moderate to long term marriages and a wide divergence between earning capacities of the spouses.

Courts in Kansas tend to follow district or local guidelines regarding the calculation of spousal maintenance.  For example, Johnson County, Kansas has different maintenance guidelines than does Shawnee County, Kansas. All, however, do subscribe to a general theory that a percentage of the difference of the parties’ income should be used to calculate the maintenance amount.  In Johnson County, Kansas, depending on whether child support is also being paid, spousal maintenance guidelines generally recommend a 20% to 25% difference of the parties’ incomes as a spousal maintenance guideline support amount.  Depending on whether spousal maintenance is being ordered on a temporary or permanent basis, Shawnee County guidelines recommend using a 13% to 17% difference of the parties’ incomes.  Either way, the greater difference between the spouses’ incomes and the longer term the marriage, the more likely a spousal maintenance award is issued. The maximum term of spousal maintenance which a judge can order is 10 years. In general, the Kansas guideline term is 1/3 the length of the marriage. This means a max term on a 12-year marriage is 4 years of maintenance. It also means marriages of 30 years or more are capped at 10 years of maintenance even though 10 years may be less than 1/3 of the marriage length. 

The factors the Court will consider in determining spousal maintenance are generally the same factors as are used in division of marital assets and debts.  These factors include, but are not limited to, the age of the parties, the parties’ present and future earning capacities, the amount in valuable property either spouse is receiving in the equitable division of the estate, the historical earning capacities of the parties, the amount of income producing each party may be receiving, and any other relevant factor in the case. 

In analyzing the factors above, Kansas, courts will do a two-step inquiry into (a) whether one party has the ability to pay spousal maintenance, and (b) whether the other party has a true need for rehabilitative spousal maintenance. If the answer to both questions is yes, the court can then determine what amount and term is the most fair, just, and appropriate in this situation. 

Spousal maintenance is not an entitlement, and it is well known that it is not a justification for keeping up with a certain type of lifestyle to which one spouse has grown accustomed. Upon separation both parties are expected to work and earn income. Even so, maintenance may be necessary to help financially maintain and stabilize one spouse in light of the separation and loss of that spouse’s income.  In many situations, one spouse has sacrificed future schooling or career for the purposes of raising the children or helping higher earning spouse start a business.    In this situation, spousal maintenance can help bridge the gap between not working and running a household to working again and starting a new career.

In other cases, payment of maintenance in excess of what is fair, just, and equitable is an often-litigated issue.  The team at Fairbanks Law has years of experience litigating and successfully resolving spousal maintenance disputes from both sides of the issue. Schedule a consult to get clear answers based on your specific situation.

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