Domestic Partnership does not constitute marriage for termination of spousal support (aka alimony)

Recent case: Missouri law states that remarriage terminates spousal support unless expressly agreed or ordered otherwise. Domestic partnership does not qualify for this purpose.

Ex-Husband appeals the circuit court’s judgment denying his motion to terminate or modify maintenance. First, movant argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to terminate maintenance because his ex-wife remarried. Second, movant argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to modify maintenance because movant proved a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, while Respondent failed to adduce evidence to support a continued award of $1,800 per month of maintenance. Finally, movant argues that the circuit court erred in awarding Respondent’s attorney’s fees in the amount of $1,500 because the totality of the circumstances does not support an award of attorney’s fees.

Judgment upheld

The circuit court did not error in denying Movant’s motion to terminate or modify maintenance because (1) the cases cited by Movant to show that the trial court misapplied the law are distinguishable from the facts in the present case; most notably, there was a factual dispute here as to whether Respondent had a marriage ceremony (constituting a domestic partnership) and (2) the rental and health insurance expenses used by the court in calculating Respondent’s expenses were needed expenses and were supported by substantial evidence. We further conclude that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Graham attorney’s fees because of the financial disparity between the parties and Respondent’s substantial amount owed in maintenance to Graham.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD77399