Setting Up And Modifying Spousal Support In Kentucky

Setting Up And Modifying Spousal Support In Kentucky

Around the country, there is considerable hand-wringing about the purpose of alimony. Some believe that these support payment should be a mechanism that permanently equalizes the standard of living between the divorcing spouses while others see alimony as a means to an end. The Kentucky alimony law basically strikes a balance between these two extremes, because it allows for permanent payments as long as the obligee spouse can prove a financial or other hardship.

Modification can be a rather undertain proposition, since it can be based on objective income and expense data or on a more subjective relationship change.

Creating the Obligation

Either spouse may ask for maintenance support under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.200, although in nearly all cases, the obligor (person paying alimony) is the husband and the obligee (person receiving spousal support) is the wife. If the spouses arelegally separating instead of divorcing, palimony support, which is essentially the same thing as alimony, may be available.

To overcome the presumption against spousal support, the obligee must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that:

  • The obligee lacks sufficient resources, including any mairital or separate property awarded in the divorce, to “provide for his reasonable needs,” and
  • That inability to provide for minimum needs is permanent, or
  • The obligee spouse has custody of a minor disabled child whose condition is so severe that employment outside the home is impractical.

The statute does not define “reasonable needs,” but the phrase usually means either the poverty line or a post-divorce standard of living that’s in the same ballpark as the pre-divorce lifestyle.

Next, to determine the amount and duration of payments, the court must determine the extent of the obligee spouse’s financial need (e.g. how much more money does she need to meet for her “reasonable needs” each month) and the obligor’s ability to pay. One or both sides may have to compromise.

To assist in this calculation, the court may consider one or more factors, including:

  • Financial resources of each spouse,
  • Amount of time required to go back to school or otherwise achieve economic self-sufficiency,
  • Length of the marriage, and
  • Standard of living during the marriage.

Judges can enter temporary alimony orders that expire when the divorces are granted and/or long-term alimony orders that last “for such periods of time as the court deems just.”


To alter the alimony paid or received, the requesting party must show a significant change in circumstances that is expected to be permanent. Retirement does not automatically qualify as a modification event, but it certainly is a permanent change in financial circumstances, at least in most cases.

Remarriage is something of a double standard, because obligees usually cannot ask for more alimony due to the obligor’s remarriage but obligors can use this relationship change as a basis to modify or eliminate their payments. An obligee’s long-term cohabitation may also justtify an alimony payment reduction.

Spousal support is an important part of many Kentucky divorce decrees. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Cave City, contact Gary S. Logsdon. Convenient payment plans are available.