Alimony in Minnesota Divorce
Alimony, legally known as Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota, refers to one spouse providing income to the other spouse after the marital relationship is ended or after the parties have separated.
You may be wondering, “Will I have to pay alimony (spousal maintenance) to my spouse?” Or maybe you’re wondering, “Will I get alimony (spousal maintenance) from my spouse?”
Let’s talk about the grounds for which someone could make a claim for alimony (spousal maintenance) from his/her spouse and how it plays out in the courtroom.
Alimony in Minnesota Divorce: Spousal Maintenance Standards
Spousal maintenance in Minnesota may be awarded if the court finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse considering the standard of living established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of training or education, or
- Is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
How Long Is Alimony (Spousal Maintenance) awarded in Minnesota?
Minnesota courts can make a temporary, short-term or long-term/permanent order for spousal maintenance.
A temporary maintenance order may be made while the divorce is pending (Minnesota Statues, section 518.62); where as a short-term maintenance order may last for a limited time after the divorce is final, while the other party acquires necessary job training and/or further education.
If a party is unable to become self-supporting or the marriage lasted for a long time (typically, at least 10 years), the judge may order the other party to pay permanent spousal maintenance.
If there is uncertainty in the court regarding the necessity of a permanent maintenance order, the court can order a permanent maintenance order with the option of modifying the order in the future.
How Much Will I Pay in Alimony or How Much Will I Receive in Spousal Maintenance?
Unlike with child support, there isn’t a guideline calculator for estimating spousal maintenance payments. Instead, when it comes to spousal maintenance, Minnesota courts are tasked with the responsibility to determine an amount and period of time that is fair, and without regard to the marital conduct of either parties.
In order to determine the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance order, Minnesota courts evaluate the following factors:
(a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party, and the party’s ability to meet needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian;
(b) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the party’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting;
(c) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(d) the duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience have become outmoded and earning capacity has become permanently diminished;
(e) the loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
(f) the age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(g) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
(h) the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party’s employment or business.
(Minnesota Statues, section 518.552)
What’s the Most Typical Situation for Awarding Alimony in a Minnesota Divorce?
The most typical scenario when spousal maintenance in Minnesota would be ordered is after a long-term marriage, where the wife stayed home to raise the children while the husband worked full-time outside of the house.
Presumably the wife contributed much to the relationship in terms of raising the children and household care and gave up opportunities for economic gain and employment to do so. Therefore, in this situation, it would be grossly unfair to allow one party to be financially well off while the other can’t make ends meet and has limited job skills and experience.
Alimony in Minnesota Divorce: How Applied
Today, two-income households, more balanced incomes, and more balance with shared parental responsibilities has decreased the need for alimony (spousal maintenance) orders. However, this is not to say that spousal maintenance is not awarded in the courts, just that spousal maintenance orders are less common today, and tend to be temporary, rather than long-term payments.
In Minnesota, judges will determine spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis, and there tends to be a great deal of judicial discretion when it comes to awarding alimony. In fact, it tends to be a very fact-intensive and hotly contested issue so it’s important that you’re prepared.
3 Key Things to Remember when it comes to Alimony (Spousal Maintenance)
1. When one spouse stands to be in a much better income position after a divorce than the other and the other will have difficulty providing for him/herself near the same level as during the marriage, spousal maintenance may be awarded.
2. A spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay are the central issues in a Minnesota spousal maintenance dispute.
3. In addition, spousal maintenance is more likely to be awarded the longer the marriage.