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Maintenance, Alimony or Spousal Support

Maintenance is "spousal support" paid by one spouse to another (we used to call it "alimony").

After your divorce, you and your spouse will probably not have as high a standard of living as you each had while married, especially if you are both employed at vastly different incomes. However, the courts long ago stated, "The Duchess should not be required to live on the wages of the scullery maid" after a divorce.  Casper v. Casper, 510 S.W.2d 253 (1974 Ky.)

What was the standard of living established during your marriage?  "Standard of living" is basically a function of income and spending and a picture of how you lived. Your attorney must therefore first know how much money you both brought in each year and how much you spent. Again, be accurate.

Get out your checkbook register, your tax returns and your credit card statements. With that information in hand, your attorney can help you gather the information and the supporting documentation needed to address your maintenance claim.


Though this is a "no-fault" state, Kentucky has a confusing and important exception to the general concept of "no fault" in dissolution. If you are seeking maintenance, your fault (i.e., adultery, drunkenness or other egregious misconduct) may well be used against you. Only the fault of the party seeking maintenance will be considered. The fault of the party against whom maintenance is sought, on the other hand, will generally not be considered.

Your "fault" will not be considered in determining whether or not you are entitled to maintenance, but it could result in a substantial reduction of your award.

Be very careful and seek competent legal counsel if this troublesome matter concerns you.

A Spouse's Special Needs

All of these special needs are expensive and many can be included in the calculation of maintenance:

  • Do you have a serious medical condition which require on-going medical treatment?
  • Are you learning disabled?
  • Are you disabled in any other way?
  • Are you receiving therapy, counseling or psychological care?
  • Are you continuing your education?
  • Are you a displaced homemaker?
  • Will you require vocational rehabilitation before you can enter today's marketplace?

Your Medical Records

It is possible that your attorney will need to obtain a copy of your medical records from your doctor, psychologist, therapist or other provider to prove your claim for maintenance.

Important Reasons to Demand Maintenance

Disparity of income and length of marriage which requires rehabilitation money to the disadvantaged spouse.

  • Special circumstances during the marriage requires maintenance.
  • Physical, mental or emotional disabilities which requires maintenance.


There are several kinds of maintenance which the courts may award to a disadvantaged spouse (usually the wife).

Temporary Maintenance
Rehabilitative Maintenance
Permanent Maintenance
Open-Ended v. Closed-Ended Maintenance

Temporary Maintenance

Temporary maintenance, or "pendente lite" maintenance, as the court calls it, is money paid while your case is pending. You and your spouse can decide how much that will be, or, if no agreement can be met, the court will decide at a hearing. By definition, this type of maintenance ends when the divorce becomes final or sooner if so ordered by the Court.

It is important that your list of monthly living expenses be as complete as possible at your temporary maintenance hearing. During your trial, the court will use that list of expenses, among other factors, in determining whether permanent or rehabilitative maintenance is appropriate.

It is difficult to convince the court that your permanent expenses are significantly different (either less or greater) than those you listed for your temporary maintenance hearing.

Rehabilitative Maintenance

Rehabilitative maintenance is money paid by one spouse to the other, usually in a relatively short-term marriage. This is paid with the specific purpose to help the financially disadvantaged spouse get the training necessary to support himself or herself. It is usually paid for a short period of time, generally a few years and usually not more than five years.

Rehabilitative maintenance is often used to finish a college degree or gain advanced training in order to assist the disadvantaged spouse in becoming self-sufficient.

Permanent Maintenance

Permanent maintenance is just what it sounds like. It is maintenance paid by one spouse to the other for life. In this day and age, it is the exception rather than the rule.

Most lawyers agree that they rarely see permanent maintenance paid in a marriage of fewer than ten years unless some medical problem exists. Length of marriage, age and relative earning capacities are critical factors in analyzing permanent maintenance claims.

Open-Ended versus Closed-Ended Maintenance

One dimension to maintenance is whether it is open- or closed-ended.

Open-ended maintenance can be modified by the court. A change in circumstances of either party can alter the original maintenance decision. However, the change usually must be more than just a temporary one. Close-ended maintenance, on the other hand, is a "lump sum" maintenance that is not modifiable. Even if the sum is paid over a series of years, its amount and length of it is fixed. The obligation to pay permanent maintenance does not end until the final payment.

If you are going to get a divorce, you probably have one or more of these questions on your mind:

  • Will I have to pay maintenance?  If so, how much and for how long?

  • Will I receive maintenance?  If so, how much and for how long?

We'd be happy to talk to you about the facts of your case and our initial thinking on the answers to these important questions.