Alimony in Minnesota
Alimony in Minnesota
By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
(Click on a Topic)
Current Spousal Maintenance Law
Denials & Modifications of Spousal Maintenance
Waivers of Spousal Maintenance
Spousal Maintenance Buy-Outs
Imputing Income and Alimony to an Unemployed Obligor
Tax Consequence of Alimony
How To Present Your Spousal
is the term used in many states for financial support paid to a ex-spouse after
a divorce. In Minnesota the term "alimony" has been replaced with the term
"Spousal Maintenance." The terms are synonymous. In some states, an
award of alimony may be based on marital fault.
As a result, issues such as dating,
infidelity or even abuse are not factors considered in determining whether to
award spousal maintenance.
Minnesota, however, is a "no
fault" divorce state. As a result, issues such as dating, infidelity or even
abuse are not factors considered in determining whether to award spousal
As recent as 1984, Minnesota
Statutes relating to awards of spousal maintenance were interpreted by the
Minnesota Courts of Appeal as disfavoring awards of permanent spousal
maintenance. At that time, in order for the Court to award permanent spousal
maintenance, it had to find that exceptional circumstances existed warranting an
award of permanent financial support. To demonstrate that an exceptional case
existed, the party seeking the award of permanent maintenance had to show that
he/she had little likelihood of becoming self-sufficient.
Since 1984 Minnesota Statues have
been modified by the state legislature to favor permanent spousal
maintenance awards when certain circumstances exist.
amendments to Minnesota Statutes modified the spousal maintenance statute to
require trial courts to consider the standard of living established during the
marriage when awarding spousal maintenance. The 1985 amendments also added
language requiring an award of permanent spousal maintenance where there is
uncertainty regarding the need for a permanent award. In short, if there was any
question whether permanent spousal maintenance was necessary, that uncertainty
was to be resolved in favor of a permanent spousal maintenance award.
Unlike Minnesota's child support
statutes, there are no percentage guidelines to determine when spousal
maintenance is appropriate or at what level. In Minnesota, trial courts have
broad discretion in deciding whether to award maintenance and in determining its
duration and amount. As a result, spousal maintenance often becomes one of the
most contested issues in divorce proceedings.
Currently, spousal maintenance
awards are granted pursuant to
Statutes § 518.552 if the spouse seeking maintenance demonstrates that he or
is unable to provide
adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established
during the marriage and all relevant circumstance, through appropriate
is the custodian of a child
whose condition and circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not
be required to seek employment outside the home.
- lacks sufficient property,
including marital property apportioned as part of the divorce to provide for
the reasonable needs of the spouse considering the standard of living
established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of
training or education; or
In determining the amount and
duration of spousal maintenance, Minnesota statutes require that Courts address
all relevant factors. The statute specifically identifies the following as
relevant issues in determining spousal maintenance:
- The financial resources of
the spouse seeking maintenance;
- The amount of time that is
necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire necessary skills or
education to find appropriate employment;
- The age and physical and
emotional health of the recipient spouse;
- The standard of living
established during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The contribution and
economic sacrifices of a homemaker including loss of seniority, retirement
benefits and other employment opportunities foregone while working at home
- The financial resources
available to the spouse from whom
maintenance is sought.
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