Financial issues are commonly the tipping point for many divorces. Where people have pooled their resources, after a divorce, there will be two households with two sets of bills, which clearly puts a financial strain on most budgets. When finances are an issue, spousal maintenance is usually one of the most contentious issues in a case. Also referred to as alimony or spousal support, spousal maintenance is designed to help a financially disadvantaged spouse obtain or maintain a substantially similar standard of living after the divorce as he or she experienced during the divorce. It is common for a client to ask whether he or she is entitled to spousal maintenance. The answer to that question is almost always no. There is no entitlement under Minnesota law to spousal maintenance. Moreover, unlike child support, there is no statutory calculator to determine the amount or duration that may be appropriate. Instead, divorcing parties need to look to the statute to determine whether grounds exist and if so, then consider the statutory factors in determining the amount and duration of the award.
Minnesota statute 518.552, Subd.1 discusses whether there are grounds for awarding spousal maintenance in a case. A spouse requesting spousal maintenance must prove either: 1) that he or she lacks sufficient property, even including any award of marital property, to provide for his or her reasonable needs following the divorce, taking into account the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the divorce; or 2) is unable to self-support through appropriate employment, considering the standard of living during the divorce and other relevant circumstances. The second factor should also be considered in conjunction with whether the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child from the marriage, and whether the conditions of the child would make it inappropriate for the parent to seek employment outside of the home.
If a spouse seeking spousal maintenance can prove one of those two grounds, the court will then look to subsection two of the statute to review a list of eight factors in determining whether spousal support should be granted temporarily or permanently, as well as how much and how long. These factors include the need of the requesting spouse, the paying spouse’s ability to pay, the length of the marriage, the time necessary for the receiving spouse to obtain training to get a job, and several other factors. In general, the longer the marriage, the higher the chance of obtaining a long-term or permanent spousal maintenance award.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with divorce, and working with their budgetary concerns. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 for an appointment so we can discuss divorce, your case, and how spousal maintenance fits in your framework.