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What can I expect in spousal maintenance in Minnesota divorce?

Spousal maintenance is one of the more imprecise matters that can surface in a Minnesota divorce. There are a lot of reasons for this. For one thing, unlike child support which is typically calculated under specific rules, there are no legal guidelines for spousal support -- or what was once commonly called alimony.

Not only that, but each county's courts approach this issue differently. It's not safe to assume that a strategy employed in Hennepin County will work in Washington County. Thus, a full understanding of monetary needs and legal experience throughout the metro area become important factors when looking for an attorney's help.

There are some general standards a party is expected to meet under state law to make a request for spousal maintenance. These include showing:

  • A clear need exists because the spouse can't make it on his or her own.
  • The other party has the wherewithal to pay the support.
  • The marriage was of long enough duration that the spouse seeking support has established an entitlement.

Other factors that tend to influence the amount and duration decisions related to spousal maintenance include:

  • Marriage length
  • The standard of living the couple has enjoyed
  • How much income each party earns or might be able to earn
  • The anticipated costs of living for both individuals
  • How old the divorcing partners are
  • The value of property each party receives as part of the settlement

As you can see, there are a lot of variables that can affect any final maintenance determination, so it becomes hard to say what to expect with any certainty. If the court feels a spouse won't be able to achieve independence, permanent support might be ordered. In other cases it might be temporary -- covering a set time to allow a spouse to get retrained and employed.

Achieving the desired outcome depends on making a clear assessment of individual goals and needs.

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