Divorce often causes severe financial worry for a spouse who earned less than the other spouse during the marriage. The lower-earning spouse often wonders whether the end of a marriage means losing the standard of living to which they are accustomed. Spouses who stayed home to care for children, or who put their own careers on hold to support the other spouse’s ambitions, may fear they will be penalized for their sacrifices.
Fortunately, Minnesota law allows the court in a divorce case to award alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, when the circumstances justify it. Minnesota’s alimony statute provides that the court can award alimony if one spouse does not have enough property – including marital property awarded in the divorce proceeding – to provide for their reasonable needs.
When considering a spouse’s reasonable needs, the court takes into account the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage. An award of alimony is considered especially appropriate if the spouse’s reasonable needs include retraining or education to rejoin the workforce.
The court can also consider whether the spouse seeking alimony will be able to support themselves after the divorce. Another factor favoring an alimony award is whether the spouse has custody of a child whose needs make it difficult for the spouse to work outside the home.
In setting the duration and the amount of an alimony award, the court considers a number of factors, including how long it will take the spouse to obtain any training or education necessary to become self-sufficient. The court may also consider the age and emotional health of the spouse seeking alimony.
Source: Minn. Stat. § 518.552, accessed Sept. 21, 2015