Minnesota Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

What is it? Formerly known as "alimony", Minnesota spousal maintenance is defined as: "an award made in a dissolution or legal separation proceeding of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other."

When can maintenance be awarded? It can be awarded during the pendency of a dissolution proceeding or at the end as the result of a settlement or the result of a trial. In some situations, it can be awarded even after the proceeding has concluded, if the Court has retained jurisdiction over the issue.

What does the Court have to consider in determining whether an award of spousal maintenance should be made? Minnesota Statutes Section 518.552 governs the award of spousal maintenance. The text of the statute follows:


  1. Subdivision 1. Grounds. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or in a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse and which has since acquired jurisdiction, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: (a) lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse considering the standard of living established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of training or education, or (b) is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
  2. Subd. 2. Amount; duration. The maintenance order shall be in amounts and for periods of time, either temporary or permanent, as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including: (a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party, and the party's ability to meet needs independently, including the extent
    to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian; (b) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the party's age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting; (c) the standard of living established during the marriage; (d) the duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience have become outmoded and earning capacity has become permanently diminished; (e) the loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance; (f) the age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; (g) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
    (h) the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party's employment or business.
  3. Subd. 3. Permanency of award. Nothing in this section shall be construed to favor a temporary award of maintenance over a permanent award, where the factors under subdivision 2 justify a permanent award. Where there is some uncertainty as to the necessity of a permanent award, the court shall order a permanent award leaving its order open for later modification.
  4. Subd. 4. Reopening maintenance awards. Section 518.145, subdivision 2, applies to awards of spousal maintenance.
  5. Subd. 5. Private agreements. The parties may expressly preclude or limit modification of maintenance through a stipulation, if the court makes specific findings that the stipulation is fair and equitable, is supported by consideration described in the findings, and that full disclosure of each party's financial circumstances has occurred. The stipulation must be made a part of the judgment and decree.

Are there tax implications on an award of Minnesota spousal maintenance? Yes. An award of spousal maintenance in Minnesota is a tax triggering event. The party paying maintenance is allowed to claim these payments as an "above the line" deduction on their taxes. The party receiving maintenance must claim these payments as income.

Pitfalls and problems: The issue of Minnesota spousal maintenance can be complex. A tax expert should be consulted and should work in tandem with your attorney while this issue is being negotiated or submitted to the court.

For any questions about Minnesota spousal maintenance (also referred to as Minnesota alimony or Minnesota spousal support), or any other matter, please call Minnesota divorce lawyer Christopher M. Banas at 651-492-1069.

Categories: Divorce