Blahnik, Prchal & Stoll, PLLC - Attorneys
Prior Lake Attorneys

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance

 Minnesota Spousal Maintenance Attorneys 

Temporary or Permanent Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, which is sometimes referred to as alimony, is a court ordered monetary obligation that one spouse is required to pay to the other spouse after the divorce is finalized.  Spousal maintenance can be either "temporary" or "permanent."

There are several factors that come into play in determining whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance, but the main factors are:

  • Length of the marriage

  • Each spouse’s income

  • Each spouse's monthly living expenses/budget

Additional Factors Taken into Consideration in Determining Spousal Maintenance

In making a determination on whether to award spousal maintenance, and if so, in what amount and for how long, the court also looks at the standard of living established during the marriage and whether a spouse could engage in additional training or further his or her education to improve that spouse’s income. Each spouse’s age, work experience, education and health are all relevant factors for the court to take into consideration.

For a court to order one spouse to pay the other spouse any amounts for spousal maintenance, the court must first make a determination that the recipient spouse (the lower income spouse) has a financial need, which is the case if that spouse’s reasonable monthly living expenses exceed his or her income. The court must also determine that the payor spouse (the higher income spouse) has the ability to pay spousal maintenance, which is the case if that spouse has available income after paying all of his or her reasonable monthly living expenses.

“Karon Waivers” and Modifications to Spousal Maintenance

If the divorcing couple is able to reach an agreement on an amount and duration of spousal maintenance, they may also agree to what is referred to as a “Karon Waiver.” If the couple agrees to a Karon Waiver it means that neither of them may ever modify the amount and duration of the agreed-upon spousal maintenance obligation. If the spousal maintenance issue is decided by a judge at trial, the judge is not allowed to include a Karon Waiver. In such a case, or in the event the couple does not agree to a Karon Waiver, either spouse may return to court at anytime to increase, decrease or terminate the spousal maintenance obligation based on any changes in circumstances that may have occurred after the order for spousal maintenance. A change in circumstances usually means that either spouse’s income either increased or decreased substantially, or either spouse had a substantial increase or decrease in his or her monthly living expenses. If a spouse is awarded spousal maintenance, and that spouse remarries, the spousal maintenance automatically terminates.

Cohabitation

Under Minnesota law, if a spouse is the recipient of spousal maintenance, and that spouse begins residing (cohabitating) with a significant other, the payor spouse may request that the spousal maintenance be reduced or terminated. The factors that the Court takes into consideration in determining whether to reduce or terminate a spousal maintenance obligation based on cohabitation include:

  • whether the spouse would remarry but for the spousal maintenance received

  • the economic benefit the spouse receives from the cohabitation

  • the length of the cohabitation and the likely future duration of the cohabitation

  • the economic impact to the spouse if the spousal maintenance is modified or terminated and then spousal maintenance ends

These cohabitation laws only apply if the recipient spouse begins residing with a significant other. The laws do not apply if the payor spouse is cohabitating with a significant other or remarries.