Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to to as “alimony,” is often a hot-button issue with divorcing couples. Some couples don’t even bring it up, while others find themselves embroiled in bitter disagreements over how much money will change hands. What do you know about alimony? Will you have to pay it or will you receive it? The good news is that you don’t have to face these questions alone. We’re here to help.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is simply a financial award given to one party in a divorce so that he or she can meet their expenses. It can be permanent or temporary, and the judge will be very clear about specific dollar amounts and the duration of time that alimony will be paid. Unlike child support, which is meant to help feed, shelter and clothe the children of a divorcing couple, spousal maintenance is intended for the spouse to pay bills, maintain his or her lifestyle, and handle general financial obligations. There is no specific formula for spousal maintenance in Minnesota (there is for child support, though).
The Need for Spousal Maintenance
Under Minnesota law, the person who wants alimony in a divorce must provide the court with an anticipated budget. It has to be reasonable according to the circumstances of the marriage, so the judge won’t even consider exorbitant claims.
For example, it’s normal to expect that both parties will still be financially accountable for their own car payments after a divorce; if one party earns a significantly lower amount than the other party, it’s reasonable to ask for spousal maintenance. Naturally, the person asking for support will have to prove how much money he or she makes. If there’s a deficit, that person has shown that they have a need for alimony.
Determining Ability to Pay
When one spouse asks for alimony, the courts must determine whether the other spouse can reasonably pay it by evaluating the other spouse’s budget and income. It’s worth remembering that alimony is deductible for the payer, and it counts as income for the payee – and there are income tax consequences when alimony changes hands during and after a divorce.
What the Court Considers
The court will decide whether one party is entitled to receive spousal support, and from there, they’ll decide how much—and for how long—the other party will have to pay it. To do this, they look at a number of factors, including:
- How long it will take for the recipient to find employment that covers all of his or her expenses, including the time necessary for education;
- The couple’s standard of living during their marriage;
- How long the couple was married;
- How long, if at all, the requesting spouse has been unemployed;
- The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits and other employment opportunities that the requesting spouse had to deal with; and
- How old, how physically fit and how emotionally capable the requesting spouse is.
Spousal maintenance can be permanent or temporary, but even if an order is permanent, it involves payments made until there’s a significant change in someone’s circumstances, such as retirement, remarriage, or a drastic change in income.
Answers to Your Important Questions
You don’t have to fight these battles alone. Call us at (763) 783-5146 to schedule a confidential case evaluation. We’ll protect your rights and ensure that every aspect of your divorce, including spousal maintenance, is fairly concluded.