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No maintenance for ‘self-sufficient’ ex-wife

When people get divorced and property is divided up, some of the assets may be the type that produces income (like investments or rental property, for example). In some cases, it’s possible that a spouse receiving income-producing property in a divorce may also be awarded maintenance payments from his or her ex.

If that happens, the paying spouse usually won’t later be able to point to “reasonably foreseeable” income from these assets to justify lowering his or her payment obligations.  But a Missouri court decision shows there are always exceptions.

In that case, a couple divorced in 2004 and continued to share rental income from properties they owned. At the time of the divorce, the wife’s monthly income wasn’t enough to support her, so the husband was ordered to pay $700 a month in maintenance.

Eleven years later, the husband went back to divorce court seeking to be freed of this obligation, arguing that the rent they were receiving had increased a lot and now provided his ex-wife with enough income to meet her needs.

The wife argued that the “foreseeability rule,” which says that a foreseeable change in income from marital assets doesn’t justify lowering a support obligation, should apply here.

But the Missouri Court of Appeals disagreed. According to the court, the “foreseeability rule” didn’t outweigh the rule that spousal maintenance should only be paid until the other spouse is self-supporting.

The law may differ from state to state. Check with an attorney where you live.

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