Minnesota Spousal Maintenance: What You Should Know

Spousal maintenance, often referred to as spousal support or alimony, can be an important component of a ​Minnesota divorce. Whether spousal maintenance is awarded, how much is awarded, and for how long, depends on a variety of factors. Support is intended to restore the party who receives it to a reasonable standard of living, considering the standard of living established during the marriage.

When Alimony is Awarded, and What Kind

The court may award spousal support if the lower-earning spouse lacks sufficient property, including property awarded in the divorce, to provide for his or her reasonable needs, or if he or she is unable to adequately self-support through employment. Spousal support may, for example, be awarded if the recipient has a young child whose need for care makes work outside the home impractical.

The duration of a spousal maintenance award varies from case to case. Temporary spousal maintenance is awarded for the support of one party while the divorce is pending. It can also be awarded when the divorce is final to support one party while he or she acquires skills or training needed to become self supporting. Longer term or permanent spousal maintenance is more common in long term marriages where there historically been significant disparity between the earnings of the parties or in situations where one spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to age or ill health.

What Does the Court Consider?

When deciding on the amount and duration of spousal support, a Minnesota court can consider just about anything it considers relevant—with one exception. The court is not permitted to consider marital misconduct when determining a spousal support award. Factors that Minnesota courts do consider include:

  • the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance;
  • how long it would take the party seeking maintenance to be able to become self-supporting, if ever;
  • the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • the duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, how absence from the workplace affected the ability to find work and become self-supporting;
  • the loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
  • the age, and the physical and emotional condition, of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  • the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  • how much each party contributed to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker to furthering the other party's employment or business.

Of course, Minnesota couples have the right to make their own decision about whether spousal support will be awarded, and the amount and duration of payments. They may even agree to limit the modifiability of support, or make it completely non-modifiable. For a court to sign off on such an agreement, the court must make specific findings that the agreement is fair and that the parties have made full financial disclosure.

Whether you are negotiating spousal maintenance with your spouse, or placing the decision in a judge's hands, having knowledgeable legal counsel on your side improves the chances of a good outcome. To learn how the law applies to the facts of your particular case, we invite you to contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.A. at (952) 224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We look forward to working with you.

Categories: Divorce, Spousal Support