Alimony (Spousal Maintenance) in Minnesota

October 24, 2011 - by Eric Anderson

Formerly known as alimony, "spousal maintenance" is an award of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse.  Basically, a court may award alimony if it finds that one spouse cannot sufficiently provide for their reasonable needs after the divorce, while the other spouse has the ability to make payments to help alleviate the first spouse's shortfall.  There is no clear-cut formula for determining an appropriate amount of spousal maintenance in Minnesota, and so, it is often unpredictable in divorce proceedings.  A court will consider all relevant factors, but will first look to the factors listed in Minn. Stat. Section 518.552 when deciding on a proper amount.  These factors include:

  1. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
  2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment
  3. The standard of living established during the marriage
  4. The duration of the marriage
  5. The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance
  6. The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  7. The ability to pay of the spouse from who maintenance is sought 
  8. The contribution of each party to the marital property and contribution in furtherance of the other party's employment or business

The statutory factors have been heavily interpreted by Minnesota courts throughout the years.  Judges have significant discretion in deciding what amount, if any, to order.  Here are a few other important things to keep in mind.  Spousal maintenance can be temporary, permanent, or some sort of hybrid duration   Spousal maintenance payments made are tax-deductible for the payor.  Likewise, receipt of spousal maintenance counts as income to the payee.  The tax consequences in dealing with spousal maintenance can create many opportunities for negotiation during divorce settlement talks.  If you are past the point of settlement discussions, you should make sure that the court is aware of the various tax consequences of spousal maintenance on your particular situation.  Finally, spousal maintenance automatically terminates upon the death of either party, or the remarriage of the receiving spouse.  However, sometimes the court requires that the paying spouse name the receiving spouse as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy.  

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.