Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota

Spousal Maintenance, also known as alimony, is ordered in a Minnesota divorce when one spouse needs financial assistance from the other spouse to maintain the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to during the marriage, after the marriage is dissolved.

A Minnesota Statute controls spousal maintenance in Minnesota, which provides the elements that the judge must consider when determining if, and how much, spousal maintenance will be paid. Unlike child support, there is not a statutory calculator for the determination of a spousal maintenance award amount. Rather, the judge will analyze considerations such as the marital standard of living, the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the present net earnings of each party, their respective budgets, and their potential for future earnings. Based on this analysis, the judge will determine whether maintenance should be awarded, and how much, which can range from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month. The judge will also determine how long maintenance will last, whether it will be temporary for a couple years, or permanent.

Generally, spousal maintenance can be modified if the recipient spouse gets married or there is a significant change of financial circumstances, such as retirement, a job change, or serious illness that affects income. However, if the parties agree to a Karon Waiver in their divorce decree, then spousal maintenance cannot be modified. Minnesota is one of a few states that allows this type of agreement, which essentially locks the parties into the maintenance terms forever. A Karon Waiver can only be voluntarily agreed to by the parties and cannot be order by the court.

The court has a lot of discretion when deciding spousal maintenance, which is why spousal maintenance is often a heavily litigated issue. It is important to consult with an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer if your divorce could involve spousal maintenance.

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