What Disqualifies You From Receiving Alimony in Minnesota?
Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. Its purpose is to help the receiving spouse maintain their standard of living after the divorce.
Although no formula exists for calculating alimony in Minnesota, courts will examine factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and education levels, and marital standard of living when making an alimony decision.
However, certain conditions can disqualify someone from receiving alimony in Minnesota. Understanding what may disqualify you from alimony can help you make informed decisions during your divorce settlement negotiations.
How Courts Determine Alimony in Minnesota
A Minnesota court may order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other spouse if the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient income or property to reasonably meet their needs or is unable to provide self-support through employment.
In determining whether to award maintenance and the amount/duration, the court considers factors like:
- The financial resources and ability to meet the needs independently of each spouse
- The time needed for education/training to allow the spouse to become self-supporting
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The length of the marriage and the spouse’s absence from employment
- Loss of income, benefits, or opportunities due to the marriage
- The age, physical condition, and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The ability of the paying spouse to meet both parties’ needs
- The contribution by each spouse to acquiring, preserving, or appreciating marital assets
- The court aims to order maintenance that is reasonable in amount and duration based on the facts of the case and these factors – without regard to marital misconduct. The goal is commonly to allow the spouse time to gain skills and reenter the workforce.
The order can preclude or limit future modification of maintenance if the court determines the agreement is fair. But generally, maintenance can be modified later upon a showing of substantially changed circumstances, including cases where the receiving spouse is cohabitating.
Types of Alimony Available in Minnesota
If alimony is warranted based on the factors above, Minnesota law allows judges to award two types of spousal support:
- Temporary maintenance – short-term maintenance to support the receiving spouse for a defined period while they get back on their feet.
- Permanent maintenance – ongoing support on a long-term basis, either for a defined number of years or an indefinite/permanent duration.
Under Minnesota Statutes Section 518.552, nothing favors temporary awards over permanent awards. Instead, judges are instructed to order permanent maintenance when the facts of the case justify prolonged support.
An attorney familiar with Minnesota spousal maintenance laws can advise which form of alimony fits your situation.
What Disqualifies You From Receiving Alimony?
In Minnesota, spousal maintenance orders are determined on a case-by-case basis, looking at factors like financial need and inability to be self-supporting. However, certain circumstances can disqualify someone or terminate existing maintenance.
A Minnesota court may deny maintenance to a spouse if they already earn ample income through a well-paying job or possess enough assets and property to sufficiently provide for their reasonable needs. The key qualifying factor – inability to be self-supporting at the marital standard of living – would be lacking.
Additionally, if the spouse from whom maintenance would be paid cannot afford to support both parties’ reasonable needs while paying support, a court may decline to order maintenance on practical grounds.
When Will the Court Terminate Spousal Maintenance?
Most court orders will specify the duration of maintenance – either temporary or long-term. When the defined end period arrives, payments will terminate unless the order is judicially extended.
Otherwise, Minnesota statutes allow for modification of spousal maintenance if a substantial change renders the existing order unreasonable. This includes cases where the recipient remarries or resides with another in an unintended cohabitation that provides economic benefits, replacing the need for support.
So, in summary – adequate personal means supporting the partner’s limited ability to pay, end of order term, or practical replacement of maintenance from new sources serve as key bases for disqualifying or terminating alimony in Minnesota. But courts hold discretion in applying these factors.
Modifying or Ending Alimony in Minnesota
In addition to the disqualifying conditions covered earlier, Minnesota law allows courts to modify or terminate alimony if a substantial change renders the existing award unreasonable or unfair.
Common reasons to revisit alimony orders include:
- Job loss or pay cut by the paying spouse
- Significant increase in the recipient’s earnings
- Medical conditions inhibiting the ability to work
- Changes in the cost of living
- Early retirement of the paying spouse
Both parties must disclose any substantial changes in circumstances to the court and their former spouse. This allows the judge to reassess whether modification of the alimony order is justified.
Absent these changed circumstances, attempting to end alimony is difficult. So consult an attorney before filing any modification request to ensure your situation legally warrants the change.
Work With a Minnesota Divorce Attorney
Trying to navigate alimony eligibility, payments, and termination on your own can be extremely difficult without proper legal guidance. An experienced Minnesota family law attorney can help ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities relating to spousal maintenance.
At Martine Law, our compassionate lawyers are dedicated to guiding you through your divorce smoothly while protecting your best interests. We will evaluate your situation and advise you regarding temporary or permanent alimony you may qualify for.
Whether you are seeking alimony or could be responsible for paying spousal support, having a lawyer by your side makes the process less stressful. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and get the alimony advice you need during this challenging time.