If one spouse was the primary breadwinner throughout a marriage, the other spouse might worry, as the marriage ends, that they will not have the funds necessary to support themselves or maintain a reasonable quality of life. Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, can help provide vital protection for the lower-earning spouse.
How Is Minnesota Spousal Maintenance Assigned?
Generally, the court will assign spousal maintenance in Minnesota for one of two reasons:
#1. The spouse requesting spousal support does not have sufficient property or income to provide for their needs and quality of life.
Generally, this standard is based on the quality of life established during the marriage. Often, spousal support is awarded because one spouse focused on providing for the home and family during the marriage, while the other focused on generating an income. As a result, the lower-earning spouse might not have the capacity to generate an income that will allow them to maintain their overall quality of life following a divorce.
#2. The spouse requesting support needs to remain at home in order to care for a child whose condition prevents the parent from working.
Sometimes, a minor child may require round-the-clock care which makes it impossible for a solo parent to work outside the home. In those cases, the court might assign spousal maintenance to that child’s primary caregiver, who might lose or give up the ability to work in order to care for that child.
Calculating Alimony in Minnesota
While there are specific calculations that can help you determine how much child support a parent can be expected to pay, there are no specific guidelines that determine the amount of spousal maintenance assigned by Minnesota law. The court will take several factors into account when determining how much alimony to assign.
#1. What Financial Resources Does the Spouse Seeking Alimony Have?
A person who has access to considerable financial resources, whether in the form of property or through a job or other source of income, may receive lower overall spousal maintenance than one who does not have access to those financial resources and who would not based on their current income and assets, have the ability to maintain their quality of life.
#2. How Long Would the Spouse Seeking Support Need to Become Self-Sufficient, Based on Current Abilities?
Often, the court will assign spousal support for the duration of the time required for the support-seeking spouse to become self-sufficient. For example, Minnesota courts might give someone the time to go back to school, to update a certification, or to look for a job.
#3. What Is the Age, Physical Condition, and Emotional Condition of the Spouse Seeking Maintenance?
Often, alimony calculations will depend on the condition of the spouse seeking maintenance. A spouse who cannot support themselves for any reason may receive support longer than a spouse who has the capacity to seek employment.
#4. How Long Did the Marriage Last?
As part of alimony calculations, the court will take a look at how long the marriage lasted. If you were married for a long time, and the support-seeking spouse had reason to assume that the marriage would continue, the court may assign more alimony than after a short-term marriage.
#5. What Did the Standard of Living During the Marriage Look Like?
The court may take a look at what standard of living the couple experienced during the marriage, including what standard of living the support-seeking spouse should have expected, if the marriage had continued.
#6. What Contributions Did Each Spouse Make to the Marriage or Marital Property?
The court may evaluate, for example, the contributions made by a stay-at-home spouse, or whether one spouse contributed significantly more income at an earlier point in the marriage.
#7. Can the Spouse Paying Support Reasonably Support Their Own Needs While Paying Alimony?
Generally, the court will not force the spouse paying support to make payments that will cause financial distress or make it difficult for that spouse to support themselves.
The Tax Implications of Alimony
According to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Minnesota residents receiving alimony do not have to count it as taxable income, and Minnesota residents who have to pay alimony cannot count it as a tax deduction. Always talk to a tax expert to get a better idea of how alimony and other payments may impact your tax burden.
Temporary Versus Long-Term Maintenance
Minnesota courts will generally assign one of two types of maintenance. Temporary maintenance is generally assigned when one spouse needs some help getting on their feet, financially speaking, after a divorce. For example, a spouse who was formerly a stay-at-home spouse, or who worked only part-time, might need time to move into a full-time position that will allow them to support themselves.
Permanent spousal maintenance is much rarer and generally assigned only in cases when the lower-earning spouse could never become self-supporting.
Modifying Spousal Support
Alimony is usually assigned by the court based on the terms at the time of the divorce. If those circumstances and terms change, either spouse can request a modification to alimony payments, unless you have agreed in writing that you will not approach the court about modifying those arrangements.
One Spouse’s Financial Circumstances Change Significantly
In some cases, one spouse’s financial circumstances might change dramatically from the time of the divorce. For example, the spouse paying maintenance might suddenly experience unexpected financial hardship. On the other hand, the spouse receiving maintenance might experience an unexpected increase in income or ability to get a job, which could change the support needed.
The Receiving Spouse’s Habitation Status Changes
If the spouse receiving support gets remarried, it may automatically end the other spouse’s responsibility for paying alimony. According to Minnesota law, cohabiting with a partner may also change the receiving spouse’s status and may lead to a review or end of alimony payments.
Contact a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer to Learn More
Whether you need alimony payments to help you get on your feet after divorce or you’re concerned about the potential financial challenges associated with paying alimony, it’s important to have a Minnesota divorce lawyer on your side. Contact CJB Lawyers to learn more about your rights after divorce.