Generally, the amount awarded is the shortfall between the recipient’s expected income and expected needs. Calculating the recipient’s expected income is straightforward when they’ve been fully employed during the marriage. If they haven’t been fully employed, determining expected income can be more complicated. Generally, if a recipient is physically and mentally able to work, the court will expect them to work full time. If the recipient hasn’t worked for a long time, , the court may order a vocational evaluation to determine future expected income. It the recipient is reentering the workforce, more spousal maintenance may be awarded in the short term, then be reduced as the recipient becomes trained and earning capacity grows.
After the court determines how much spousal maintenance to award, it must decide how long it should be paid. Spousal maintenance is generally described as either “temporary” or “permanent”. However, even when it’s labeled “permanent,” it isn’t really guaranteed under all circumstances.. For example, it will end when the paying spouse dies or if the recipient remarries. It can sometimes also be modified, such as when there’s been a substantial change in circumstances that makes the award unreasonable or unfair. Thus, it’s really more properly called “indefinite” rather than permanent.