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House bill would limit permanent alimony in Minnesota

Alimony is often a contentious issue in a divorce. In recent years it has also become a contentious issue in some state legislatures around the country, as lawmakers have introduced bills eliminating permanent alimony in some situations. Recently a committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill that would terminate a permanent alimony obligation if the recipient cohabitates with their significant other.

Lawmakers heard stories from people who said they were paying alimony to an ex-spouse who then moved in with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Supporters of the bill argue it is unfair to require someone to financially support the household of an ex-spouse as well as the ex's new romantic partner. Those lawmakers who oppose the proposed law say it would disproportionately hurt women, who often have a hard time getting back on their feet financially after the end of a marriage.

Minnesota courts consider a number of factors in deciding whether to award alimony, which is also called spousal maintenance. The court considers the couple's standard of living during the marriage, whether the spouse seeking alimony will be able to support themselves after the divorce, and other factors.

An award of alimony can be either permanent or temporary in Minnesota. Temporary alimony is often awarded when one spouse has not worked outside the home during the marriage, and needs education or training to rejoin the workforce.

Whether the House bill becomes the law in Minnesota remains to be seen. It must still pass the full House and Senate and survive a potential veto by the governor. If it does become law, those who are paying or receiving permanent alimony may wish to consult an attorney to find out if they will be affected.

Source: CBS Minnesota, "Alimony Reform Bill Passes House Committee," Pat Kessler, March 29, 2016

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