Spousal maintenance is usually ordered by the court to be paid by one spouse to another when one spouse lacks the capacity to become fully self-supporting even when the income and resources available to that spouse has been taken into consideration. The court will typically order spousal maintenance where one spouse is unable to become self-supporting while the other is financially able to provide such assistance. In such cases, the self-supporting spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance.
If spousal maintenance is awarded at the time of divorce, it can be made in one or a combination of ways:
• Permanent Spousal Maintenance Permanent spousal maintenance is paid until the death of the payer or upon the remarriage of the recipient. Where a ‘cohabitation’ clause is included in the agreement alimony will end when it is determined that a recipient is cohabiting with someone in an attempt to avoid remarriage.
• Lump-Sum Spousal Maintenance Instead of weekly or monthly payments, lump sum spousal maintenance is settled in one payment. Just like all other spousal maintenance, this type of maintenance is taxable. Prior to agreeing to lump sum maintenance, you should consult a CPA experienced in divorce matters to find out what the tax implications will be.
• Temporary Spousal Maintenance Temporary spousal maintenance may be awarded where the financial status of the spouses is almost equal but one spouse may need temporary assistance to help ‘get on their feet’. This type of maintenance usually lasts for a period of about one to two years.
• Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance This is the most common type of spousal maintenance and is usually awarded in cases where the recipient is young or will eventually be able to return to the workforce after a divorce and become financially self-supportive. This type of spousal maintenance may include education payments that may be necessary to enable the recipient spouse to become self-supporting.
When the court determines whether it is appropriate to award spousal maintenance under Minnesota law, the following factors may be taken into consideration:
- The amount of property the recipient spouse will have after the divorce settlement
- The needs of the recipient spouse in light of their standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- Whether the recipient spouse will be able to be self-supporting, given the standard of living during the marriage
- Whether the payment of spousal maintenance will allow the children of the marriage to remain in the family home and the circumstances that may warrant the custodial parent to remain at home with the children Factors that are taken into account when Determining Spousal Maintenance
When determining how much spousal maintenance will be paid and how long payments will continue, the court will consider the following factors that include but are not limited to:
• The length of the marriage • The ages as well as the physical, emotional, and mental states of each party
• Income and liability status of each spouse • Other sources of income including but not limited to dividends and interest.
• The present and potential earning capacities of both spouses
• The standard of living of both spouses during the marriage • The economic needs of each spouse
• Child care and child support obligations
• The potential of each spouse to acquire further assets and income
• The time necessary for a recipient of spousal maintenance to acquire further education in order to obtain gainful employment
• The contribution of one of the spouses as a homemaker
• The contribution of one of the spouses for the education or furtherance of the other’s career
• How much the earning power of the custodial parent will be affected by parenting requirements.