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Alimony reform bill goes to Governor for approval

Alimony reform has been a hot topic in recent years across the United States and in Minnesota. There are several aspects of alimony laws that have come under fire from various groups throughout this period. State legislatures may be beginning to listen.

In a previous post in April of this year, we discussed an alimony reform bill that had just been approved by a committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. That bill later passed the full House by a vote of 112 to 9, and the Minnesota Senate has now passed the bill by a similarly strong margin of 45-12. At the time this post was prepared, Governor Dayton was expected to sign the bill into law.

The law addresses the specific issue of alimony payments to an ex-spouse who is cohabiting with another partner. Spousal support orders typically provide that payments will stop if the recipient remarries. Those who pushed for the new law argued that some ex-spouses were cohabiting with their new significant other, and avoiding marriage, in order to keep the payments coming. Under the new law, if a divorce has been final for a year and an alimony recipient is living with a new partner, the paying spouse can go to court and request that the payments be reduced or terminated.

The law does contain some necessary flexibility. Some ex-spouses who are cohabiting with a new significant other will still need alimony payments for a period of time in order to get their lives back on track financially. The law does not ban alimony outright to a cohabiting ex-spouse; the paying spouse must petition the court for a reduction or termination. A cohabiting ex-spouse will have the opportunity to argue to a judge that alimony payments should continue.

Source: Minneapolis StarTribune, "In Minnesota, a 'common sense' change in alimony," Gail Rosenblum, May 20, 2016

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