When The Court Reserves Alimony or Spousal Maintenance

Posted by & filed under Alimony / Spousal Maintenance.

In family court, there are cases in which the court grants spousal maintenance (i.e., alimony), and there are cases in which the court denies spousal maintenance.  There are also cases in which the court RESERVES spousal maintenance.  When the court reserves spousal maintenance, there is no obligation to pay spousal maintenance, now or in the immediate future, but there COULD BE the obligation to pay maintenance in the future.  

As an example, in Case A, the court finds that one spouse in a divorce is not self-supporting, and the court awards spousal maintenance to the dependent spouse.  In Case B, the court finds that both spouses are self-supporting, and the court refuses to award maintenance to either spouse.  In Case C, the court finds that one of the spouses is not self-supporting, but the other spouse is currently unemployed, so the court reserves maintenance.  This reflects the fact that the spouse who would otherwise pay maintenance does not currently have income to pay maintenance, but that the court believes that, once re-employed, that spouse will have the ability to pay maintenance.  The family court has reserved jurisdiction over the issue, so that in the future, the court may consider whether the facts and circumstances warrant a maintenance obligation.  

In many cases like Case B, when the court refused to award maintenance, the court loses jurisdiction to address the alimony issue in the future.  That is, the court's authority to award maintenance in the future expires, unless the court expressly reserves the issue.  The family court continues to have jurisdiction over the alimony issue only when one of the spouses is not self-supporting, or there is some doubt about one (or both) spouse's ability to become self-supporting in the future.    

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