Iowa Supreme Court Holds Husband’s Order to Pay Spousal Support to Wife for the Rest of His Life Was Fair and Equitable

Husband appealed a decision by the district court, among other things, by ordering him to pay spousal support for the rest of his life with no termination date. The district court’s original order provided that husband pay $1400 per month in spousal support, increasing to $2000 per month upon the termination of child support, for life.  One of the issues is whether traditional spousal support of unlimited duration was fair in this particular case.  The Iowa Supreme Court held that traditional spousal support for an unlimited duration in the amount of $2000 per month was fair and equitable. It based its reasoning on an analysis of the statutory factors; nevertheless, the length of marriage was given the most weight as the parties were married for twenty-seven years. In re Marriage of Gust, 858 N.W.2d 402 (2015).

Commentary:

It must be noted, however, that both parties were in their fifties when the district court handed down this order with respect to lifetime payments spousal support to the wife. This case should not construed that any person can seek and obtain lifetime spousal payments upon the dissolution of marriage. It is within the sound discretion of the court to determine the duration and amount of spousal support based upon the statutory factors. Here the determinative factor in this case was the long duration of the parties’ marriage.