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Understanding Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

dollar.jpgSpousal maintenance--formerly called "alimony"--can be one of the more contentious issues to resolve during a Minnesota divorce. Even the mention of spousal maintenance can wrinkle a few brows.

Because the issue of financially supporting a former spouse can be such a divisive topic, it is crucial to understand some basic information about spousal maintenance so that you can prepare and manage your expectations accordingly. 

Grounds for spousal maintenance

First, understand that courts do not order maintenance in every divorce. Generally, it is most appropriate in cases where one spouse will be at a considerable financial disadvantage after a divorce. This often happens when one person gave up a career, and therefore their earning capacity, to stay home and care for the home and children.

Factors that affect spousal maintenance in Minnesota

To determine if someone should receive maintenance, the courts consider several factors, including:

  • Both parties' financial resources
  • The time and effort it would take the party seeking support to find employment
  • The parties' marital standard of living
  • Whether the party seeking support lost earnings, benefits and opportunities during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The contributions (both financial and non-financial) by each party
  • Age and health of each party

Based on these factors, the courts can determine if one person should receive financial support, and whether the other party is able to pay it.

Two types of support

Even in cases where courts award spousal maintenance, it is not necessarily an obligation that will last forever. While some spousal maintenance awards are permanent; others are merely temporary.

Broadly speaking, awards will be temporary if it is reasonable to expect that the recipient can secure gainful employment with training and education. Permanent awards are more often seen in divorces involving older parties who may have been married for several decades.

Exploring your options with an attorney

Understanding these basic elements of spousal maintenance in Minnesota can minimize unwelcome surprises and prevent fights over unrealistic demands. But whether you have concerns about paying alimony or questions about how to pursue it, speaking with an attorney directly can help you better prepare for this element of your divorce.

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