Is Spousal Maintenance An Issue In Your Minnesota Divorce?

Spousal maintenance — often still referred to as alimony — is typically one of the most emotional disputes in any Minnesota divorce, but it doesn't need to be. Family case law has thousands of cases to draw on to guide judges on how spousal support has been decided in the past. If spousal maintenance will be a disputed issue in your pending divorce, the lawyer you choose will have an important role in how the matter is settled.

As an attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping my clients resolve complex divorce issues, I know that there are many questions people have about whether they will be awarded alimony, whether they will have to pay, how long will they have to pay and what factors are used to determine the amount.

The Factors Commonly Taken Into Consideration

Alimony is taken on a case-by-case basis in Minnesota courts, but there are some key factors that go into every decision. In general, these include:

  • The duration of the marriage: A marriage of relatively short duration will seldom be considered a candidate for a spousal support award.
  • The circumstances of the spouses: The spouse seeking alimony must demonstrate that he or she will suffer a significant economic disadvantage unless there is a level of spousal maintenance awarded, on a temporary or permanent basis. Judges will typically consider whether the obligee (receiving) spouse left the workforce in order to be the primary homemaker or caregiver for children. Other considerations include whether the obligee has requisite job skills or education to return immediately to the workforce with sufficient earnings to pay for rent or mortgage payments.
  • The length of support requested: Judges will typically award permanent spousal maintenance only in cases of long-term marriages. In most cases, there will be a termination date or set of circumstances, for example, completion of a college degree or job training.
  • The amount of support requested: Judges will not award an amount for spousal maintenance that allows the obligee to continue to maintain an expected lifestyle while leaving the obligor in financial ruin.
  • Type of support requested: Nobody wins in divorce but the courts don't want either party to become an economic burden on society, either. Paying a monthly support check isn't always an option if the obligor (payer) does not have sufficient financial means. One alternate type of spousal support may include allowing one spouse to continue to live in the house for a period of time until the property is sold.
  • Other financial and nonfinancial circumstances: The courts will listen to additional circumstances, including health concerns of either spouse, family relationships and the quality of life to which the parties have become accustomed.

Seeking A Temporary Award With An End Date Is Often The Best Outcome

If it appears likely that the courts will consider awarding one spouse some level of maintenance, the most important outcome is to seek a temporary award with an end date. The courts are more likely to find a temporary award acceptable if it meets the needs and protects the rights of both parties.

It will be your attorney's job to seek an acceptable solution for the legal separation period over the six months your divorce is in the legal process. By working toward a common-sense, agreeable resolution now, negotiations may continue toward a long-term solution in your final divorce judgment.

Do You Have More Questions About Factors That Determine Spousal Maintenance?

Call me, attorney Timothy Lees, at 651-222-9093 or send an email requesting an opportunity to meet for a free consultation. From my offices in St. Paul, I represent clients in divorce litigation in the nine-county Twin Cities metropolitan area and throughout Minnesota.

My office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Evenings and weekends may be available by special arrangement. Free parking is available near my office building.

I can make arrangements to meet at a convenient location near you.