Recent changes in and proposals regarding Minnesota (and federal) legislation promise to significantly alter the divorce process. Changes to spousal maintenance arrangements are of particularly significant concern to both currently divorcing and already divorced spouses. It is important to keep abreast of such developments, as they could impact your tax return or your maintenance obligations. Read on to learn more about recent updates in spousal maintenance law:
Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill
In 2016, the Minnesota Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill. This legislation adjusts post-divorce spousal maintenance for ex-spouses who begin living with a new partner. In such a situation, the paying spouse can seek alimony reductions or even terminations. To qualify for modification based on cohabitation, the divorce must be finalized for at least one year. Minnesota’s cohabitation-based alimony reform does not provide for retroactive reimbursement. In other words, the petitioner’s efforts only allow for future alimony termination or reduction.
Minnesota courts use a variety of factors to determine cohabitation. A couple may be deemed cohabiting based on the amount of time they’ve lived together, any economic benefit they may receive from their living situation, and whether marriage would likely occur if not for a current spousal maintenance arrangement.
Removing Spousal Maintenance Deductions
A more recent—and to local lawyers, more alarming—update to spousal maintenance law: the loss of tax deductions. This change could prompt adverse consequences for spouses currently making maintenance payments. Critics believe that the removal of deductions will harm mediation and collaboration efforts, thereby pushing more couples towards costly and time-consuming courtroom action that they otherwise could have avoided. The proposal will not impact those who are currently divorced and making payments, but could impact future modification efforts.
From cohabitation to spousal maintenance deductions, alimony in Minnesota is quickly changing. Keep an eye on both state and federal updates to ensure the best possible arrangement—and to determine whether modification is possible.
As you navigate the divorce process in Minnesota, work with a family lawyer who is up to date with legislative changes. The law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. is a wonderful resource as you seek the best possible arrangement for spousal maintenance.