Alimony is called “spousal maintenance” in Minnesota.  It is a monetary payment from one spouse to the other after a divorce is finalized.  A temporary support order may also be issued while the divorce case is pending. Alimony was established to replace the shared responsibilities of marriage.  Historically, one spouse was the sole “bread-winner”, and the other spouse served as a homemaker.  As more and more families started to have both spouses work outside the home, most parties were capable of financially supporting themselves after marriage.  As such, alimony has become less necessary, or at the very least, less of a focal point in the divorce process. The shift toward no-fault divorce has also altered the alimony decision process. Today, spousal maintenance may be permanent or temporary.  The factors a Minnesota judge will consider on whether to order a spousal maintenance award, and in what amount and for what duration, is set forth in Minn. Stat. s. 518.522. For example, in deciding whether to award spousal maintenance, a judge will determine (1) whether one spouse “lacks sufficient property” to provide for his or her reasonable needs, when considering the standard of living established during the marriage. The judge will also consider (2) whether the spouse requesting spousal maintenance is unable to provide for himself/herself, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and appropriate employment.  When children are involved, a Minnesota court will take into account whether the condition or circumstances of the child (i.e. special medical condition) make it appropriate that one party not be required to seek employment outside the home. With respect to amount and duration, a Minnesota court will look at several factors.  For example, a Minnesota judge will look at (1) the financial resources of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance, (2) the time necessary to obtain sufficient education or training to obtain employment opportunities, (3) the standard of living established during the marriage, and (4) the duration of the marriage.  A Minnesota court will also consider (5) the age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance, and (6) whether the person from whom maintenance is sought has the ability to pay spousal maintenance.  In the case where one party was a homemaker, a court may consider (7) the contribution that spouse made towards the furtherance of the other party’s employment or business. After a divorce has been finalized, a request for modification of a spousal maintenance can be initiated by either party for several reasons.  Individuals thinking about divorce should know that spousal maintenance is a separate issue from child support, as the purpose of each is the support of different individual people. If you have questions about Minnesota spousal maintenance, contact our divorce lawyers for a free consultation about your situation.

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