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When Do the Minnesota Courts Award Alimony in A Divorce?

Radtke Law Offices, P.A. June 7, 2021

A married couple can usually enjoy a higher standard of living together than they would enjoy separately by pooling their resources. Even if only one spouse works, the contributions to the household of a non-working spouse can drastically increase everyone’s quality of life.

Having one spouse stay home can keep costs like childcare and food lower for your family, but it can also mean more complications during a divorce. Someone who leaves the workforce, even if they have held prestigious positions or have a degree, will struggle to re-enter the workforce at the same level they had achieved before leaving it. Their earning potential may have dropped substantially, especially if they haven’t worked in several years.

A dependent spouse is certainly at a disadvantage when it comes to filing for divorce. A big discrepancy in earning potential or personal property between spouses could lead to one spouse asking the court for alimony maintenance. How does Minnesota handle such requests during a litigated divorce? 

The Judge Has to Make a Decision Based on Family Circumstances

Minnesota family law allows a judge to order alimony when it seems necessary and appropriate given the totality of the family circumstances. Although a judge cannot consider spousal misconduct for purposes of spousal maintenance, they can consider just about every other aspect of the marriage and the pending divorce to set terms that they deem just.

The division of property, the standard of living during the marriage and the custody of any children in the family can all influence the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. Like many states, Minnesota allows for both temporary and permanent maintenance. The judge will have to be the one who decides how long the maintenance should last and how much each payment should be based on your unique family circumstances.

Support May Not Be Necessary in Many Situations

Your earning potential, the resources you have and many other factors will influence whether you have a right to request alimony or a possible obligation to your spouse to pay it.

If each spouse can support themselves, maintenance may not be necessary. If one spouse can not live on their own, they may need temporary maintenance until they can. The maintenance order should be enough to help a dependent spouse live independently or at least recover their ability to do so through entry-level jobs or education.

A careful review of your household finances and other marital circumstances can help you develop a strategy for either requesting alimony or fighting back against an unnecessary request for spousal maintenance during your pending divorce.