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Spousal Maintenance

The Gallagher Law Office, L.L.C. is committed to offering Minnesota families innovative legal strategies and distinguished financial advice to assist them in addressing the complex legal aspects of divorce.

From¬†Susan’s interview¬†for the Masters of Family Law series on ReelLawyers.com.

Spousal Maintenance

At the end of most marriages, individuals face a variety of complicated decisions and legal obligations, including spousal maintenance. More commonly known as spousal support or, previously, as alimony, spousal maintenance is financial support that is provided by one spouse to another according to the terms of an antenuptial agreement, court order, or settlement such as those made in mediation.

Much like child support orders, Minnesota courts evaluate a number of factors to determine what, if any, support should be provided. While the court considers a variety of factors when determining spousal maintenance after divorce, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, the relative income of each party, and the needs of each spouse. An important factor is to avoid an unfair economic consequence as a result of a divorce.

Under Minnesota law, spousal maintenance takes four general forms:

  • Permanent

Permanent spousal support is paid until the spouse receiving support dies or remarries. Cohabitation with another person may be a consideration in eliminating or reducing the amount of support, but is not of itself a factor that will eliminate maintenance.

  • Lump Sum

A lump sum support order requires the one-time taxable or non-taxable payment of support and can involve important tax obligations that should be considered when reaching an agreement. This form of maintenance is often accompanied by a waiver of all future maintenance payments.

  • Temporary

Unlike permanent maintenance, temporary spousal support only lasts for a specified period of time, allowing the recipient to regain their financial footing. They may have a degree or past work experience but need to update their skills for a period of time before they are ready to become self-supporting.

  • Rehabilitative

In Minnesota, temporary and rehabilitative maintenance are the most common forms of spousal support. Rehabilitative maintenance requires one spouse to provide for the needs of a financially dependent spouse as they attend school and try to become self-supporting. Rehabilitative maintenance is a form of temporary maintenance that carries with it an expectation that with education, the spouse receiving maintenance can become fully, or at least partially, self-sufficient. Sometimes rehabilitative maintenance can be followed with a modified, lower amount of permanent maintenance. This would generally occur only in a long-term marriage where there is an older spouse who is genuinely unable to reach the financial goals that were set for them.

Unless the parties have contracted for spousal maintenance that cannot be modified (called a Karon Waiver) spousal support can be modified as needs and circumstances change. We can guide you through the process of modifying the terms of your spousal maintenance provisions to enable you to protect your financial interests and rights.

At the Gallagher Law Office, L.L.C., we can help clients make informed decisions about protecting their financial futures. Contact our law office for respected counsel and creative solutions to spousal maintenance issues.

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Susan M. Gallagher
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