What is Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota?

Spousal maintenance, formerly called alimony, is the award in a divorce or legal separation of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. The court may award spousal maintenance, regardless of gender. The court will also award it if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property. Spousal maintenance includes property awarded to the spouse in the divorce or legal separation. It will provide for the spouse’s reasonable needs or if the spouse cannot provide reasonable self-support through adequate employment. Spousal maintenance also may be ordered if the spouse seeking maintenance is the primary caregiver for a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the spouse not be required to seek employment outside of the home.

The court must consider the standard of living during the marriage. The court also must consider the financial needs of the spouse seeking maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay spousal maintenance while also meeting their own reasonable needs.

Spousal maintenance can be temporary or permanent. Temporary maintenance is ordered for a definite period of time and allows the spouse receiving spousal maintenance to establish or reestablish their earning potential, whether through enrolling in or finishing school or returning to the workforce. Permanent maintenance is ordered for an indefinite period of time and usually follows longer marriages where the ability of the other spouse to enter or return to the workforce is limited. The court must order permanent maintenance if there is any uncertainty as to whether temporary or permanent spousal maintenance should be ordered.


How is Spousal Maintenance Determined in Minnesota?

Similar to child custody determinations, the court is guided by certain factors when considering a request for spousal maintenance. These include:

  1. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently.
  2. The time necessary for the spouse to become self-supporting.
  3. The marital standard of living.
  4. The length of the marriage.
  5. The spouse seeking maintenance loses employment benefits and other work opportunities.
  6. The spouse seeking maintenance is the age, physical, and emotional condition.
  7. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet the needs of both persons.
  8. The contribution of each spouse in the accumulation of property during the marriage.

No single factor is controlling, and each case must be determined on its own facts. The court cannot consider marital misconduct (adultery, abuse, etc.).


Taxes and Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

The tax effect of spousal maintenance is an important consideration. Spousal maintenance is considered income to the recipient and is taxable. Spousal maintenance is tax-deductible to the paying spouse. Given these considerations, a divorce agreement may be structured to avoid these tax consequences. For this reason, and based on the many other factual and legal considerations involving a spousal maintenance determination, it is essential to have a knowledgeable family law attorney represent your interests. The experienced attorney Kay Snyder and the attorneys at Jeddeloh Snyder Stommes can represent you in divorce or legal separation proceedings to ensure your case is fully and fairly presented.

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