What is Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota?

Spousal Maintenance, formerly called alimony, is the award in a divorce or legal separation of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.

Regardless of gender, the court may award spousal maintenance if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property awarded to the spouse in the divorce or legal separation, to provide for the reasonable needs of the spouse or if the spouse is unable to provide reasonable self-support through adequate employment. Spousal maintenance also may be ordered if the spouse seeking maintenance is the primary caregiver for a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the spouse not be required to seek employment outside of the home.

The court must consider the standard of living during the marriage. The court also must consider the financial needs of the spouse seeking maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay spousal maintenance while also meeting his or her own reasonable needs.

Divorced woman seeking spousal maintenance in Minnesota

Spousal maintenance can be temporary or permanent. Temporary or rehabilitative maintenance is ordered for a definite period of time and allows the spouse receiving spousal maintenance to establish or reestablish his or her earning potential, whether through enrolling in or finishing school or returning to the workforce. Permanent maintenance is ordered for an indefinite period of time and usually follows longer marriages where the ability of the other spouse to enter or return to the workforce is uncertain. If there is any uncertainty as to whether temporary or permanent spousal maintenance should be ordered, the court must order permanent maintenance.

How is Spousal Maintenance determined in Minnesota?

Similar to child custody determinations, the court is guided by a number of factors when considering a request for spousal maintenance. The factors include:

the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently;

  • the time necessary for the spouse to become self-supporting;
  • the marital standard of living;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the loss of employment benefits and other work opportunities by the spouse seeking maintenance;
  • the age, physical condition, and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  • the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet the needs of both persons; and
  • the contribution of each spouse in the accumulation of property during the marriage. No single factor is controlling, and each case must be determined on its own facts. Marital misconduct (adultery, abuse, etc.) cannot be considered by the court.

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