The bill creates a process, including guidelines as to amount and term, for determining an award for spousal maintenance at temporary or permanent orders in proceedings for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity filed on or after January 1, 2014. Key points in the process include:
- Initial findings of fact concerning each party's gross income, marital property, financial resources, and reasonable need as established during the marriage;
- Findings concerning the guideline amount and term of maintenance for marriages of at least 3 years where the parties' annual combined gross income does not exceed $240,000; and
- Factors relating to the appropriate amount and term of maintenance.
The bill maintains the overall threshold standard of need contained in current law that the court must consider before entering a maintenance award.
The bill specifies that the maintenance guidelines as to the amount and term of maintenance do not create a presumption. The court maintains discretion to determine the maintenance award after making the required findings and considering all of the provisions of the law. The court must make written or oral findings in support of its maintenance award or a denial of maintenance.
Maintenance orders will be modified pursuant to the existing modification statute.
For dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity actions filed on or after January 1, 2014, maintenance awarded at permanent orders may be suspended, reduced, or modified based upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse when the payor spouse can show that the recipient spouse has maintained a primary residence with another person as a couple for 6 months after the entry of the initial maintenance order. Maintenance may be reinstated upon the termination of the recipient spouse's cohabitation with another person, but shall not be reinstated beyond the original maintenance term.
The enactment of section 1 of the bill does not constitute a substantial and continuing change of circumstances for purposes of modifying existing maintenance orders.
The bill includes provisions for securing maintenance awards and for a party to waive maintenance, accept a reduced amount of maintenance, and to enter into agreements relating to maintenance.
Additionally, the bill defines "gross income" for purposes of applying the maintenance guidelines and for determining maintenance.
Finally, the bill amends the current statute for modification of maintenance by clarifying when maintenance terminates and by creating a presumption of good faith in favor of the payor spouse once he or she reaches full social security retirement age.