Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Minnesota

Find out how alimony (spousal support) is awarded and calculated in Minnesota.

During divorce proceedings and once a divorce is final, Minnesota courts may order one spouse to pay alimony, also called spousal maintenance, to the other. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide financial assistance to the lower earning spouse so that spouse can maintain a reasonable standard of living. Either spouse may ask the court to make a maintenance order. You may also ask for spousal maintenance if you cannot work because you are the full time caregiver of a child with significant mental, physical, or medical needs.

There are three types of spousal maintenance in Minnesota: temporary, short-term, and long-term.

  • Temporary maintenance is generally paid by one spouse while the divorce is pending, and the amount is based on each spouse's income.
  • The paying spouse may also pay short-term maintenance for a limited time after the divorce is final, to assist the other with job training or education.
  • A judge may order long-term or permanent maintenance if the marriage was lengthy (usually, more than ten years) or the receiving spouse is unable to become self-supporting.

There is no calculator to estimate how much you may receive in maintenance, but the court will make an order in an amount it deems fair to you and your spouse. The Minnesota Office on the Economic Status of Women publishes a guide to child and spousal support that you may find useful.

To determine whether to award spousal maintenance, the judge will review several factors, including both spouses' financial resources and earning ability, the time needed for the receiving spouse to acquire employment training or education, and each spouse's financial and other contributions to the marriage. Additional factors may include the marital standard of living, the length of the marriage, and the age and physical capabilities of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance. Fault is not a factor in determining whether to award maintenance, or in deciding on the amount.

Some permanent spousal maintenance awards are more permanent than others--the judge can order that the support will end at a certain time, either a particular date or when a particular event happens, like the receiving spouse remarrying. If there's no provision otherwise, either spouse can ask for a modification of spousal support as long as there's evidence that circumstances have changed so substantially that the current order is no longer appropriate. For example, you can ask the court to change the current order if you lose your job or if your spouse changes jobs or moves to a new location. A spousal maintenance obligation will end if the spouse receiving support remarries or if either spouse dies.

The spouse who pays maintenance may claim it as a deduction on federal taxes, while the spouse receiving maintenance must claim the payments as income.

Minnesota Statutes; Chapter 518.552 - spousal support

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