Will I have to Pay Alimony in Minnesota?

Hundred Dollar Bill
Paying for Alimony in Minnesota

Whether you will have to pay alimony in Minnesota can be a difficult question.  Alimony is often the most contentious part of a divorce.  It also can be the most difficult to predict what a Court will do.  Courts have wide discretion to determine whether you will pay, how much, and for how long.

Alimony – Need and Ability to Pay

Alimony is known legally as spousal maintenance.  Spousal maintenance is decided by a two-step process. 

Step 1: Need and Ability to Pay

First, a Court looks at whether one spouse has a need.  Second, the Court looks at whether the other spouse has the ability to pay.

To do this, Courts typically look at post-divorce income of both parties.  Then, the Court compares this to the standard of living established during the marriage.  Spouses argue the latter, in particular.

The Court may answer “yes” to the “need” and “ability to pay” questions.  If so, the next step looks at at how much monthly spousal maintenance is and how long it should last.  

Alimony – Length and Amount

Step 2: Determine Length and Amount of Alimony

For this, a Court is required to consult the following factors, Minnesota statute 518.552.

“The maintenance order shall be in amounts and for periods of time, either temporary or permanent, as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including:

(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.”

What it Means in a Divorce

Each one of these points is arguable.  In an alimony dispute, attorneys often argue these points.  They can be very fact-intensive.  Therefore, a divorce attorney helps you to identify which of these are in play, what evidence to use, and how to argue each one.  Whether a spouse pays Alimony in Minnesota may depend on it.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page