Many people receive alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) awards as part of MN divorce decrees, but these awards are less common than they were many years ago, and they may be temporary in nature. While our Minnesota alimony lawyers have helped many clients obtain the full support they need after divorce, we have also learned that individuals often discover numerous experiential benefits from going back to work.
How Minnesota Law Views Alimony
As a general rule, MN law attempts to ensure that both parties of divorce continue to live under the same basic standard of living that they enjoyed in marriage. Still, reaching this goal involves many considerations, with property division representing just one major factor.
When making alimony decisions, the courts turn to the Minnesota Maintenance Statute for the guidelines needed to decide the amount and duration of alimony. The following are just some of the factors used to make this determination:
- The financial resources of both parties
- The time needed for the spouse seeking alimony to get trained and/or find a job
- The duration of the marriage combined with the length of time away from the job market
- Age and physical capacity of the potential recipient
Of course, every set of circumstances is unique, so it is impossible to rely solely on a mathematical formula or computer program to make the right decision for every divorcing couple. In some cases, judges may find that inequities in the property settlement justify some form of alimony. In other cases, for example, if a spouse needs to remain in the home to care for a special needs child, a judge may recognize the inability to work, even if child support helps pay additional expenses for the child’s special needs.
A Return to Work Can Help Spouses Toward Successful Futures
Anyone who regularly has to shovel snow before daylight or tries to meet important obligations before going to work at the crack of dawn typically views the stay-at-home life as very attractive. Certainly home life has many appeals, but it can also create a sense of isolation that detracts from building a new life after divorce.
Parents who stay at home with the children may have contact with other parents, but conversation is often limited to parenting topics. On the other hand, going back to school or joining the workforce immediately after divorce creates a new social environment.
Additionally, earning an income and gaining new knowledge are both vital to build the self-esteem and independence that adults need to thrive outside of marriage. Along with enhancing many aspects of daily life, these qualities also provide important examples for the children.
A frank and honest discussion with an experienced spousal maintenance attorney early in the divorce process helps ensure that individuals strike the right balance between needed income and personal growth. Whether extra temporary income can bridge the gap until employment is possible — or even if longer-term or permanent alimony is an absolute must — call us at 763-323-6555 or use our convenient contact form.