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Family Law | Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

When a couple divorces, it is inevitable that the financial situation of both parties will change. In an effort to keep people in a stable and comfortable financial situation, Minnesota family law aims to help individuals transition smoothly out of a marriage.

“Spousal maintenance,” also known as alimony, is the term used for financial support paid to an ex-spouse after a divorce. The process is a legal tool designed to provide one party with financial support as he or she tries to live independent from the marriage. In Minnesota, courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to award spousal maintenance and in determining the duration and amount of support awarded. For this reason, spousal maintenance may become one of the most contested divorce issues.

When is spousal maintenance granted?

In Minnesota, spousal maintenance awards are granted pursuant to current maintenance statutes. Considering a request for spousal maintenance, the court’s determination is two-fold: (1) Is the spouse in need of spousal maintenance? (2) If so, how much and how long? The spouse may be found to be in need of spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking support demonstrates one of the following circumstances:

  • The spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property, to provide for his or her reasonable needs. (Note: Such needs include education or employment training).
  • The spouse is unable to provide adequate self-support through employment, considering the standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The spouse is the custodial parent of a child whose condition and circumstances are such that the parent cannot seek employment outside the home.

In determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, Minnesota statutes require that courts consider an array of factors. The law identifies the following as relevant in determining payment amounts:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage and age of the parties
  • The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The physical and emotional condition of the recipient spouse
  • The amount of time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain skills or an education necessary to find appropriate employment

These are just some of the factors that a court will consider under Minnesota law. There is no fast and hard calculation for spousal maintenance. The duration of support will depend on one’s personal situation. Awards of spousal maintenance may be temporary or permanent. It is important to understand that no single factor is dispositive and courts must weigh all factors, giving appropriate weight to each.

The determination of spousal maintenance can be very difficult. More importantly, every case and every person’s circumstances differ. If you are contesting or asserting spousal maintenance payments, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.