In reality, though, this calculation is all over the map. The Court will take into consideration the length of the marriage; what was the non-working spouse doing prior to the marriage; is the non-working spouse marketable; how quickly will it take for the non-working spouse to get back into the workforce; how old is the non-working spouse, etc. Also, the Court can impute income to the non-working spouse if they are readily marketable and relatively young. What does that mean? Say, the non-working spouse is a thirty-five (35) year-old psychologist who took some time off to raise the children, but still kept their licensure in order. The Court probably won’t go by “one-third; one-third” rule, rather, the Court will inquire as to how long it will take for the non-working spouse to re-establish their practice and then adjust maintenance accordingly.
Free legal tip: Spousal maintenance is neither a penalty to the payor nor a windfall to the payee. It’s simply a mechanism for one party to re-establish their independence. That said, are there times when maintenance could be indefinite? Yes. Say, the parties were married for over forty (40) years; the non-working spouse was a stay-at-home parent for that period of time, plus more; and the working spouse cheated on the other party. Could the Court award maintenance for life to the non-working spouse? Absolutely. If the non-working spouse is in retirement-age, why should the Court force them to re-enter the workforce? The Court probably wouldn’t.
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