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Why Claim Spousal Maintenance?

A major issue that arises in the breakup of longterm marriages in Kentucky is that of spousal maintenance, also known commonly as alimony. Attorneys all too frequently present it to clients as an "it exists, live with it" proposition, and laymen understand it only in the abstract. Sadly, poorly defined legal precepts on maintenance are constantly reinforced in the opinions of both trial and appellate courts; further obfuscation comes from the earnest efforts of legal scholars in creating voluminous (and largely incomprehensible to anyone outside the legal community) articles on the topic.

Because of this, the general public has difficulty in understanding how maintenance awards are even justifiable in an age where there is a theoretical parity in employment and economic potential among men and women - this leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding between lawyer and client. To my way of thinking, it is important to distill the notion of why it exists down to an explanation that is simple, yet not a soundbite, if only to clarify available options.

My professional approach to spousal maintenance is consistent with Kentucky law and recognizes the fact that a longterm marriage is a single economic entity for most of its duration; like a business entity, some marital estates are managed well and some are managed horribly, and that will affect the economic value of the whole entity. The participants in that marriage have certain specific expectations and roles in advancing the economic and social position of the marriage, each set of roles has some actual value which deserves recognition and recompense from the aggregate pool of marital assets. Once the litigants have a clearer understanding of the reason for the existence of maintenance, the crafting of an equitable property division and determining whether longterm maintenance is necessary becomes a more rational process.