How to Avoid Paying Spousal Support in Minnesota?
Spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony, is often awarded in Minnesota divorces. If you are a higher-earning spouse going through a divorce, you may be worried about having to pay your ex substantial amounts of monthly support for years to come.
While Minnesota courts determine alimony on a case-by-case basis, there are strategies you can use to avoid paying spousal support or at least limit the amount and duration of payments.
What is Alimony, and Who Has to Pay It?
Also called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance,” alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain their living standard during marriage.
Typically, the higher-earning spouse is required to pay alimony to the lower-earner. However, in some cases, the low earner may pay alimony, for example, if they come into a large inheritance after divorce.
Alimony length depends on factors like the marriage length. It may be paid permanently, for several years, or temporarily to help the ex-spouse get back on their feet.
Why Might Alimony Be Awarded in Your Divorce?
There are a few common scenarios where Minnesota courts tend to award spousal maintenance:
- Long-term marriage – Alimony is more likely after a long marriage where one spouse depends on the other’s earnings.
- One spouse gave up career – If your spouse sacrificed their career advancement for the marriage, like caring for children full-time.
- Paying spouse has greater earnings – Large income disparity between the spouses increases chances of alimony.
- Recipient spouse has little income – If your spouse will struggle financially without support.
- Recipient has health issues – Alimony is more likely if your spouse has medical issues preventing full employment.
- Standard of living discrepancy – If your spouse cannot maintain the marital standard of living on their own.
Being ordered to pay substantial alimony after divorce can derail financial plans and goals. However, there are proactive steps you can take to avoid or limit support obligations, especially with guidance from a knowledgeable family law attorney.
With proper legal planning and assertive negotiation of divorce terms, paying alimony may not be mandatory. Protect your financial future by focusing on alimony avoidance strategies from the start of divorce proceedings.
Can You Avoid Paying Spousal Support in MN?
There are a few circumstances where you may be able to avoid paying spousal support altogether:
- You and your spouse agree alimony isn’t necessary: If you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement through mediation or negotiation that waives alimony, the court will likely approve it.
- Your spouse can be self-supporting: If your spouse is employed, healthy, and able to meet their own needs, the court may determine alimony isn’t necessary.
- You have a short-term marriage: Maintenance awards are typically for a shorter duration in marriages that last less than 10 years. The court may not order spousal support if it was a brief marriage.
While avoiding alimony completely is difficult, it is possible to reduce the amount and duration if you take proactive steps.
7 Tactics To Avoid Paying Alimony
If you want to get out of paying spousal support or lower your obligation, here are some of the most effective tactics to consider:
1. Seek a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement signed before marriage or a postnuptial agreement signed during marriage can include a spousal support waiver. This legally binds you and your spouse to terms agreed upon in advance. However, the court won’t uphold any agreement deemed unfair.
2. Negotiate a Lump Sum Payment
Offering your spouse a lump sum payout upfront may satisfy their need for support. This single payment could allow you to avoid ongoing monthly alimony payments.
3. Encourage Your Spouse to Work
If your spouse makes efforts to obtain employment and become self-sufficient, the court may award less alimony. Any income they earn will likely reduce your support obligation.
4. Seek Rehabilitative Alimony
Rehabilitative spousal maintenance is short-term and designed to meet the recipient’s needs long enough for them to get education or training to re-enter the workforce. This type of alimony typically lasts no longer than five years.
5. Gather Evidence of Financial History
Thoroughly document both parties’ incomes from employment, investments, benefits, gifts, and other sources. Concrete evidence will help determine appropriate support.
6. Argue Against Permanent Alimony
Permanent spousal maintenance is rarely awarded in Minnesota. With evidence of employability and limited marriage duration, you may convince the court that short-term support is sufficient.
7. Petition to Modify or Terminate Alimony
You can return to court to request an alimony modification or termination if your financial circumstances or spouse’s change significantly.
Work With an Experienced Minnesota Family Law Attorney
Working with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney from the start is the best way to avoid paying excessive spousal support. An attorney can assess your situation and develop a personalized strategy to limit alimony. They can also represent you in negotiations and court to argue against inappropriate maintenance awards.
At Martine Law, our seasoned Minneapolis divorce attorneys have extensive experience with spousal maintenance cases. We take an aggressive approach to protecting our client’s rights and finances in all family law matters.
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation if you seek to avoid or minimize alimony obligations. Our team will review your case specifics and provide guidance tailored to your goals. You can achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce with skilled legal representation.