Spousal Maintenance Attorneys in Minnesota
Spousal maintenance is an emotionally charged issue. The fact that no formula exists relative to alimony awards means each case is treated uniquely. Given the lack of predictability concerning alimony awards, litigants sometimes have a tough time deciding how to appropriately settle their case. Our experienced team of spousal support lawyers in Minnesota can help you navigate the legal nuances of alimony.
The Nature Of Spousal Maintenance
Of all the financial issues involved in a divorce, spousal maintenance (alimony) is usually the most complicated, and emotional.
Spousal maintenance is a difficult issue because unlike child support (which is based on a specific formula), alimony is a “factor-based” financial award. There are no absolutes.
Ten judges would likely view the same set of facts very differently, and issue ten distinct opinions – all of which would be upheld on appeal, given the discretion afforded to judges.
The bottom line is that alimony is an issue that is handled on a case-by-case basis. As a result, our spousal support attorneys in Minnesota often consider a “range of possible outcomes” during settlement negotiations, as opposed to a finite projection.
Podcast: Spousal Mainenance Issues in Divorce
Purpose Of Alimony
Spousal maintenance payments are designed to provide financial assistance to an ex-spouse who is incapable of meeting their monthly expenses, either temporarily or permanently.
Determining Need And Ability To Pay
The starting point in considering a spousal maintenance award involves determining the “need” of the person seeking alimony. They must provide an anticipated budget. That anticipated budget must be “reasonable,” in light of the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage (no Cadillac payment for someone who routinely drove a Chevrolet).
Once the budgetary needs of the recipient are determined, earnings of that litigant (whether actual or potential) are explored. If the income of the spouse seeking alimony falls short of their budget, they have established a “need.”
The next step in the analysis involves a comparison of the payer’s income and budget, in ascertaining their ability to pay spousal maintenance.
Because alimony is deductible to the payer, and must be reported as income by the recipient, the income tax consequences of spousal maintenance payments are taken into account in determining need and ability to pay.
Amount And Duration Of Alimony Award
The question then becomes how much the payer should pay, and for how long. To determine the amount, and duration of alimony, spousal maintenance lawyers in Minnesota will examine the following factors:
- The financial resources of the party seeking alimony;
- Time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment;
- Standard of living established during the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment;
- The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking alimony;
- The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
- The ability of the spouse from whom alimony is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking alimony; and
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party’s employment.
Temporary And Permanent Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. A more accurate way of describing alimony involves characterizing it as “definite” or “indefinite.”
A temporary (definite) award of spousal maintenance provides for payments to the recipient for a specified period of time. Some temporary awards are non-modifiable by agreement (both as to amount and duration), so that certainty exists for the litigants (called a Karon waiver). In other situations, a temporary award may be made subject to future modification.
A permanent (indefinite) alimony award involves payments made until there is a significant change in circumstance for either party (remarriage, retirement, or a significantly increased or decreased income).