Alimony / Spousal Support

In Minnesota, the terms "alimony," "spousal maintenance" and "maintenance" all mean the same thing. Spousal maintenance is a monthly payment that one spouse makes to a former spouse, in order to enable him or her to maintain the lifestyle attained during the marriage.

Minnesota spousal maintenance can be temporary, which means that it is paid only during the time that the parties' divorce is proceeding through the court system. Spousal maintenance can be rehabilitative, meaning that it is paid only for a limited time period after the divorce if final. Usually rehabilitative spousal maintenance is intended to support a spouse while he or she returns to school or prepares to re-enter the job market. Spousal maintenance can also be permanent, meaning that it is paid until one or the other spouse retires, and sometimes longer.

Minnesota alimony laws are very broadly written, and can be interpreted very differently by different judges. Generally, when evaluating a claim for spousal maintenance, the law requires the court to consider the ability of an individual to meet his or her own needs while contributing to the needs of the former spouse. This requires an analysis of income history, employment history, employability, job skills, monthly budgets, and other factors. Unlike many states, in Minnesota one does not need to be married for a certain number of years in order to ask the court to award spousal maintenance. In Minnesota, spousal maintenance can be waived by agreement, but this agreement requires very specific statutory language. If the waiver is done incorrectly, a person who believes they no longer have a spousal maintenance obligation can find themselves back in court several years later, opposing a new action by a former spouse who says that circumstances have changed and he or she now needs an award of, or an increase in the amount of, spousal maintenance.