Many married couples divide roles and responsibilities. One person might be the breadwinner and manage the family finances while the other spouse stays at home to care for the children and support the household.

Under these circumstances, divorce can be particularly stressful for the financially disadvantaged party. After all, he or she may not receive an income. Those in this situation should understand the factors that could determine whether they collect spousal maintenance or alimony.

When do courts award maintenance?

Per Minnesota laws on alimony, the courts can award spousal maintenance to someone if he or she:

  • Is not able to support themselves
  • Lacks sufficient financial resources after property division to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

Keep in mind that alimony is not granted in every divorce. Parties hoping to receive maintenance can help their case by having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that provides this type of support, or by working with an attorney to prove that they need support and their ex can pay it.

Factors that affect amount, duration

If the courts award spousal maintenance, they will consider several factors when calculating the amount and duration of support. There is no standard formula they use, but they will decide what is fair and appropriate based on:

  • Each person’s financial resources
  • What is reasonable in terms of how long it will take the recipient to become financially independent
  • The training and education that may be necessary for the recipient to secure employment
  • Each person’s age and health
  • The marital standard of living
  • Both parties’ contributions to the appreciation of marital property
  • The financial sacrifices by the recipient if he or she left the workforce
  • Other relevant factors

Based on these elements, the courts determine how much to award and how long the support will last. Often, this money will be in place to help the recipient get back on his or her feet after the divorce. However, under certain circumstances, including when a couple has been married for at least 10 years, the courts have the option to award long-term or permanent alimony.

Of course, every case is different, and there is no guarantee that the courts will rule one way or the other. As such, securing legal counsel can be wise.