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A Guide to Minnesota Spousal Maintenance

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What Do You Need to Know About Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota?

Many financial issues must be worked out as part of any divorce. One topic that generates many questions from clients is alimony, or spousal maintenance, as it is referred to in Minnesota. Spousal maintenance is paid by one spouse to another following a divorce. It is meant to ensure that the lower-earning spouse has the funds necessary to meet their needs and maintain their quality of life until they can become financially independent. Whether you are seeking spousal support or have concerns about making payments, our experienced Minnesota alimony attorneys can answer your questions and guide you through the legal process.

What Are the Two Types of Spousal Maintenance?

Minnesota courts have the option of awarding one of two types of spousal maintenance based on the recipient’s needs. The primary difference between them is how long the maintenance lasts.

Temporary Spousal Maintenance

This type of spousal maintenance is awarded for a fixed period following the divorce. Often, one spouse may need some time to regain their financial footing and reach a point where they can provide for their own needs, especially if they have been out of the workforce during the marriage. Temporary spousal maintenance gives them the resources to survive during this time while they search for a full-time job, secure housing, or seek the education or training necessary for a career. Although there is a fixed time limit on temporary payments, a spouse may petition the court to extend the duration if their circumstances warrant it.

Permanent Spousal Maintenance

The term “permanent” can be misleading because this variety of spousal maintenance typically does end at some point. However, it lasts for a longer period than temporary spousal maintenance and often does not have a set end date. Instead, it will usually be awarded for an unspecified length of time, and the court can modify or terminate it as the spouses’ situations change. This long-term type of spousal maintenance is less frequently awarded but may be appropriate after the breakup of a long marriage or in cases where one spouse will never be able to become self-supporting.

How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated?

Minnesota law does not contain an exact formula for determining how much spousal support should be awarded. Instead, it provides leeway for judges to make decisions based on various factors, including:

  • The recipient’s finances and their capability to provide self-support through employment.
  • The standard of living the recipient had been used to during the marriage.
  • How long the marriage lasted and whether it impacted the recipient’s ability to remain in the workforce or amass retirement or savings funds.
  • Whether the recipient has full custody of their child(ren) and if it is appropriate or necessary for them to forgo regular employment to provide childcare.
  • The payor’s financial ability to provide spousal maintenance while continuing to meet their own needs.
  • How much the recipient contributed to the marital assets and financial success of the marriage.

One factor that Minnesota courts do not consider when determining alimony payments is whether one individual was at fault for the divorce. Infidelity or other issues within the marriage will not affect whether spousal maintenance is awarded and the amount given.

Under What Circumstances Can Spousal Maintenance Payments Be Ended or Modified?

While some spousal maintenance agreements may specify an end date, certain situations can also result in the termination of payments. The remarriage of the recipient is the most common circumstance that will cause alimony to be halted. However, Minnesota law also allows for spousal maintenance to be stopped in some cases if the recipient is cohabitating with a partner.

The court may consider a modification of payments if the financial situation of either individual changes dramatically. For example, if the payor experiences an injury that prevents them from continuing to work or they reach retirement age, they may petition to have their spousal maintenance payments reduced or ended. Alternatively, if the recipient has an unexpected change in their finances, such as a sudden decrease in income or substantial medical expenses, that may increase the amount of support they require. If you have questions about requesting a change to your alimony, contact a knowledgeable Minnesota modification attorney to discuss your situation.

What is a “Karon” Waiver?

A “Karon” waiver is an agreement that prevents both parties from seeking modifications to their spousal maintenance award, regardless of their future finances. The court itself cannot include a “Karon” waiver in its divorce decree. It must be negotiated and agreed upon by both spouses, and the court must find that it is a fair and equitable agreement. Typically, the recipient will get some variety of up-front payment in exchange for entering into this waiver.

You should never sign a “Karon” waiver without consulting a skilled divorce attorney. While it may be a good choice for some individuals, it can severely limit your future options and could put you into financial hardship if your situation changes.

How is Spousal Maintenance Taxed?

Until 2019, individuals paying spousal maintenance could deduct their payments from their taxable income. However, following the passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), alimony is no longer tax deductible for the payor, and the recipient does not have to count it as income. It is recommended that you discuss your tax situation with a financial expert to ensure that you fully understand the impact your divorce and spousal maintenance may have on your taxes.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Assist You?

Spousal maintenance can be a complex and emotionally charged topic, but it is crucial to handle it correctly because it can significantly impact your future financial well-being. An alimony lawyer from TVA Law office can ensure that you are treated fairly in negotiations and court, so you can confidently move on with your life. Contact our law firm at 651-571-8547 to discuss your case and legal options.

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