No spousal support (alimony) award that leaves paying spouse negative income

Recent Case: Trial Court error in awarding Wife spousal support amount that left Husband with negative budget, Court must also consider Wife’s ability to contribute

Husband appeals from the trial Court’s judgment awarding $1,000 in monthly maintenance to his former spouse. Husband asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in that the award exceeds his ability to pay.

When determining the amount of maintenance, a trial court must balance the reasonable needs of the spouse seeking maintenance against the ability of the other spouse to pay. Here, the trial court acknowledged that its award left Husband at a monthly deficitof over $500. Additionally, a trial court should consider the obligation of a receiving spouse to contribute to her own support. Here, the court specifically found Wife capable of minimum wage work but assumed in its calculations that she would remain unemployed indefinitely.

Decision: Reversed
Filed April 21, 2015
Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District