Either spouse may ask for alimony during or after a divorce or legal separation.
According to Minnesota law, a court may order one spouse to pay alimony if the spouse seeking alimony:
Couples may disagree about the need for or amount and duration of spousal support during a divorce.
The agreement, however, can become part of a court order if the couple reaches an agreement. Court orders are typically found in divorce decrees.
The law on spousal maintenance is gender-neutral, which means either spouse can request it.
The judge will evaluate the following factors once he or she is satisfied that one spouse meets the grounds for maintenance:
There is no formula for judges to use when setting alimony in Minnesota-unlike child support, which is calculated specifically. Maintenance awards are determined at the discretion of judges.
Minnesota courts may order temporary, short-term, or long-term maintenance.
If one spouse is in need of financial assistance during the divorce process, then temporary alimony is appropriate. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 518.62 (2018).) When the judge finalizes the divorce, regardless of whether a new, post-divorce award is issued, temporary support ends.
Minnesota judges award short-term support most often. Supported spouses can become self-supporting in most cases, but need time to acquire skills and education to find employment. A spouse who is finishing school or needs additional income due to the fact the spouse has to accept an entry-level job after the divorce may be entitled to short-term maintenance payments. Additionally, short-term alimony may be beneficial to spouses awaiting the sale of marital property, such as a house or business.
The judge specifies the end date for short-term maintenance. After maintenance ends, the supported spouse can apply to the court for an extension of support.
Increasingly rare, long-term maintenance can still be appropriate in divorces where a lower-earning spouse will never be able to support herself or himself. It may be ordered that a spouse receives permanent support if they are physically disabled and cannot work, or if they are older and out of the job market for a long time. A long-term support payment isn’t always permanent, and if circumstances change in the future, the paying spouse can request a review of the support. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 518.552 (3) (2018).)
The two of you can agree, in writing, that neither of you will ask the court to review the support order in the future. The court may, however, modify spousal maintenance absent an agreement if the requesting spouse shows that their circumstances have significantly changed since the last order. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 518A.39 (2) (a-b) (2018).)
In 2016, Minnesota passed the Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill, which makes it easier for a paying spouse to modify maintenance if the supported spouse is living with a new partner (cohabiting). After the initial support order, the paying spouse must wait at least 12 months before asking for a review based on cohabitation. The court can reduce, suspend, or terminate maintenance if it determines that the supported spouse is cohabiting and that an alimony modification is appropriate.
The following will be considered by the court:
You can ask the court to enforce the court-ordered maintenance if you don’t need a review of the original alimony order.