Determining Spousal Maintenance Awards
The family law attorneys at Tuft & Lach, PLLC can advise you in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case. In Minnesota, the court may order one spouse to pay spousal maintenance (alimony) to the other spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking spousal maintenance:
- 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
- is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment.
In setting the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, the court must consider:
- the financial resources of the parties;
- the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;
- the standard of living established during the marriage;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities foregone by the spouse seeking maintenance;
- the age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
- the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property.
The court has considerable discretion in determining the amount and length of a spousal maintenance order. Spousal maintenance can be “permanent” or “rehabilitative” depending upon the court’s assessment of whether the spouse seeking maintenance is likely to become self-supporting after a period of rehabilitation or retraining. In cases where the spouse’s ability to become self-supporting is uncertain, the court is directed to order a permanent award.
Modifying Spousal Maintenance Orders
Both rehabilitative and permanent spousal maintenance awards are subject to modification if there is a change of circumstances, which renders the spousal maintenance order unreasonable and unfair. When such a change of circumstances may occur is decided on a case-by-case basis and depends upon the circumstances of both parties.
However, by agreement of the parties, the court may lose jurisdiction to amend, extend or even order any spousal maintenance if there has been a full and fair disclosure of each spouse’s financial circumstances, if the agreement is supported by some type of consideration (i.e. a lump sum payment from one spouse to the other or even the mutual waiver of support), and where the court finds the agreement to divest the court of jurisdiction to modify or order spousal maintenance is fair and equitable under the circumstances. This type of an agreement is often referred to as a “Karon waiver.” If there is a valid Karon waiver, the court may not modify the spousal maintenance order under any circumstances.