Usually called alimony, spousal maintenance is the legal term for compensation provided by one spouse to another as part of a divorce decree.

As such, spousal maintenance is a remedy that is future-looking. In other words, the payor of spousal maintenance is ordered to pay spousal maintenance from a future stream of income.

While some divorces are amicable, with a higher earning spouse agreeing to help fund a stay-at-home parent’s ongoing care of their collective children, spousal maintenance can also be complex based upon the specific set of circumstances in each case. Spousal maintenance is also not just confined to a person who may have stayed at home to take care of children. It may also encompass someone who stayed at home because that was a collective decision by the family unit. It could entail a person who may no longer be able to work based on mental or physical health limitations. Overall, spousal maintenance attempts to compensate a spouse for their loss of earnings, loss of career growth, loss of education, their own retirement opportunities, etc. It can be helpful to imagine what a spouse sacrificed in terms of opportunities, career growth, etc., because of their decision to not work during the marriage.

If you’re a candidate for spousal maintenance, you’re entitled to a portion of your former spouse’s ongoing earnings. Likewise, primary breadwinners of a family may want to ensure that the amount they pay in spousal maintenance also allows them to meet their reasonable monthly living expenses. 

Whether your spouse is asking for maintenance from you, or you’re asking for maintenance for yourself, Alithis Family Law can help.

Move ahead with a trusted family law team on your side – call today to schedule a free consultation.

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Understanding Alimony: Providing for Fair Spousal Support

Spousal maintenance is a financial provision of many divorces. 

The intent is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living that was established during the marriage, especially if they’ve been financially dependent on the higher-earning spouse during the marriage. It can be awarded on either a temporary or a permanent basis depending on the facts of your particular case. 

Navigating the intricacies of alimony in Minnesota requires a thorough understanding of the law and how state standards apply to your situation. In many cases, both parties come to the table with an interest in working towards a fair resolution, particularly when children are involved. However, not every situation lends itself to an obviously agreeable outcome. 

In either case, you should be well-represented by an attorney and well-informed for a balanced negotiation with your spouse. Sometimes, a direct negotiation with the help of an attorney is sufficient. However, in most cases, the mediation process can be helpful to ensure fairness and provide a forum where both sides can be heard. If negotiation and/or mediation is not successful, it may be necessary for a judge to make a decision, which happens at a trial.

Determining or modifying the amount and duration of spousal maintenance can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Extend of marital property that will be awarded to both parties
  • Financial resources of each party
  • Time and education necessary to enable a spouse to become either partially self-sufficient or fully self-supporting
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Duration of the marriage and, in for a homemaker, the amount of time absent from employment
  • Loss of earnings, seniority, retirement opportunities, and future earning potential
  • Age and physical/emotional health
  • Current earning capacity
  • Childcare responsibilities

There are more considerations than the above-mentioned factors. It is important to note that there is no mathematical formula to calculate spousal maintenance in Minnesota (unlike child support). In cases involving spousal maintenance, each and every factor has to be carefully examined, and it is essential to perform legal research.

Spouses do have the option to come to a private agreement that waives spousal maintenance altogether, called a Karon waiver. This means that both spouses voluntarily agree that they do not need financial support from the other party. In such an instance, the party who obtains the Karon waiver, has to provide consideration (typically in the form of a lump-sum payment and/or future monthly payments that cannot typically be modified). Importantly, a Karon waiver means that neither party will be able to return to court at a later date and request maintenance or modify maintenance, no matter the circumstances. The decision whether or not to engage in a discussion about a Karon waiver must be made very carefully with an attorney, as this can have long-lasting implications. Another example of a Karon waiver can mean that a spouse may decide to waive maintenance altogether in exchange for a favorable property award as part of the division of property process during a divorce.

How To Get a Fair Alimony Agreement? Work With an Experienced Team

When spousal maintenance is in question, Minnesota law actually requires a thorough evaluation of the income and expenses of both spouses. One of the best ways to ensure a fair and balanced spousal maintenance agreement? A vocational evaluation. This involves a third-party, professional vocational expert trained in evaluating and valuing earning potential for people from all walks of life considering education, work history, occupational background, and more. Their conclusions provide hard evidence for a court or mediator to consider when determining if or how much alimony is appropriate. 

Whether you’re just beginning the divorce process and trying to understand spousal maintenance, or you’re negotiating after a messy divorce for a spousal maintenance modification, the alimony attorneys at Alithis Family Law have extensive experience dealing with complex spousal maintenance issues and can help you move forward with peace of mind and certainty. 

Ready to learn more? Contact the spousal maintenance attorneys at Alithis Family Law for a balanced look and professional representation during your divorce. 

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