In a divorce or legal separation proceeding in Kentucky, either spouse may ask the court to make a maintenance (alimony) order, either during the divorce to provide support for the transition, or after the divorce is final, to help the supported spouse move forward and become self-supporting.
If you request a maintenance order, a family law judge will examine the evidence you submit about your financial need and the reasons why you cannot support yourself right away. The rules about maintenance orders in Kentucky are fairly strict, and judges are not supposed to grant maintenance unless two things are true:
- the spouse seeking maintenance doesn't have sufficient resources to be self-supporting, even after the property division that is part of the divorce, and
- the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to be self-supporting or is responsible for caring for a child whose needs make it inappropriate for the parent to be employed outside the home.
Once the court determines that you are entitled to maintenance (and that the other spouse has the ability to pay), the judge looks at several factors to determine the amount of maintenance and the length of time you may receive maintenance, including:
- each spouse's financial resources
- the time necessary to complete training or education for the receiving spouse to find appropriate employment
- the age and physical health of the spouse seeking maintenance
- the standard of living during the marriage, and
- the length of the marriage.
A maintenance order is temporary while the divorce is pending; the court then makes a permanent order once the divorce is final. The permanent order can be short or long term depending on each spouse's circumstances and the length of the marriage. Maintenance is usually not meant to last indefinitely, and the court expects the supported spouse to become self-supporting as soon as possible.
If there is a significant change in circumstances that cause the current order to be unfair, either spouse may request a modification of the maintenance amount. The court will ask both spouses to provide updated financial and employment information at that time. Maintenance ends when both spouses agree, when either spouse dies, or when the receiving spouse remarries or lives with a partner.
Federal law requires the spouse receiving maintenance to declare it as income for tax purposes. The spouse paying maintenance may declare it as a deduction for tax purposes.
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.160 (Temporary Orders - Maintenance)
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.200 (Maintenance)