When two people live together, they combine their abilities and income in order to create a shared standard of living. In many marriages, one spouse will have a significantly higher income than the other and this is fine, as long as they continue to be married. However, when the couple divorces, Minnesota courts are likely to assign spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, to be paid by the more financially successful spouse. This ensures that a divorce does not create impoverished adults who are unable to seek better employment and to support parents tied to caring for a special-needs child, but support doesn’t have to go on forever.
The 3 Types of Spousal Support
In Minnesota, there are three lengths of spousal support, determined by the needs of the separating couple and each spouse’s income. The first kind is ‘Temporary’, and lasts as long s the divorce is pending. This gives the lesser-income spouse a chance to get on their feet, find a job, or arrange to downsize in order to survive on their own income.
The second kind of support is ‘Short-Term’, which is specifically tied to the ability to complete job training and find new or better employment. If you are assigned short-term maintenance, there is a definite time limit that your ex has to find a new job while you continue to support them.
The third kind is ‘Long-Term’, and is rarely applied unless the marriage lasted ten years or longer. This category of spousal support can be indefinite and often based on your spouse’s inability to become self-supporting. That said, it is designed to end based on a number of factors, including a time limit set by the judge and remarriage.
How Much is Spousal Support?
There is no specific estimate or even template for designating the amount of spousal support to be paid, but the courts work hard to make decisions based on what is fair for both spouses. Your previous standard of living and the incomes of both parties play a large part in this decision, as the lower-income spouse has a right to maintain something similar to your shared quality of life. The time needed for job training and getting hired somewhere more lucrative is also calculated, along with medical and care costs for children if they stay with the supported spouse. Fault, on the other hand, is not a mitigating factor, and support can be mandated for an ex-partner even if the divorce had cause.
When Does Spousal Support End?
In the simplest possible terms, spousal support can end at any time if circumstances have reasonably changed for the better and an appeal is made. For instance, if the supporting spouse loses their job or the party receiving payments has achieved a significant independent income since the divorce, even long-term maintenance can be waived. Either member of the arrangement can make an appeal for a change in support rules, and usually the court will comply as long as enough change has occurred to make the original agreement no longer appropriate.
Spousal Support and Remarriage
Most spousal support agreements end when the person receiving payments marries someone new. However, with the legal act of remarriage becoming less common, the state of Minnesota has recently passed a provision for eliminating spousal support if the supported party has moved in with and blended their finances with a new romantic partner. This prevents abuses in which someone will remarry in every way but legally in order to continue receiving payments from their ex.
Whether you’re in need of spousal support after your divorce or are seeking to stop payments to a now financially stable ex-partner, our experience in family law can help you find the right solution for your personal circumstances. For more information on Minnesota spousal support or for family legal advice, please contact us today.