While a divorce and subsequent financial changes can feel overwhelming, it doesn’t need to feel like the end of the world. In fact, many find divorce to be liberating, offering a fresh start and open opportunities.

However, far too many soon-to-be exes believe alimony will automatically be required as part of your divorce settlement. This isn’t always the case, and Minnesota law requires a thoughtful, situational approach to determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, and how much. 

Alimony Under Minnesota Law: Key Points

  • Alimony orders are generally only issued if one spouse makes considerably more than the ex spouse, who is financially dependent on the higher-earning spouse.

  • If an alimony order is granted, spousal maintenance payments will be calculated based on a variety of factors, and there is no single calculator for alimony in MN.

  • Alimony can be awarded temporarily or permanently. Once alimony is granted, it will generally only be terminated if the receiving spouse remarries, dies, or the court order ends. However, current alimony reform laws allow spouses paying financial support to request modifications.

  • For divorces occurring after January 1, 2019, alimony payments received are not tax deductible for the obligor (the payor) or taxed for the obligee (the receiver).

A couple talking about calculating minnesota spousal maintenance

What are the Grounds for Alimony in Minnesota?

Numerous states have set formulas for calculating alimony (aka spousal maintenance). However, unlike child support, Minnesota does not have a spousal maintenance formula. 

Generally speaking, in Minnesota, alimony is calculated by balancing a spouse’s ability to pay versus the reasonable needs of the spouse requesting spousal maintenance. Additionally, the Court must analyze and balance the following factors:

  1. The financial resources of the party seeking spousal support, including both spouse’s employment, marital property apportioned to the party, and the party’s ability to meet needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian;

  2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the party’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting;

  3. The standard of living established during the marriage;

  4. The duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience have become outmoded and earning capacity has become permanently diminished;

  5. The loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;

  6. The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;

  7. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and

  8. The contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party’s employment or business.

(See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, Subd. 2 for details.)

How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in MN?

In some cases, parties and/or attorneys will hire financial experts who will assist in preparing cash flow analyses that identify the tax consequences for a theoretical spousal maintenance award. The cash flow analyses will even take into consideration other tax deductions, such as mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and child dependency exemptions. Cash flows are typically prepared to identify the amount of spousal maintenance needed to satisfy a budget, or in some cases to “equalize” the net, after-tax cash flow of the parties.  

It is important to note that the purpose of a cash flow analysis is to determine several hypotheticals, both from the person from whom the spousal maintenance is being sought and the spouse who will pay the spousal maintenance.

Four (4) elements are extremely important and oftentimes subject to litigation in spousal maintenance calculations:

  • The obligor’s income

  • The obligee’s income

  • The obligor’s monthly living expenses

  • The obligee’s monthly living expenses

A cash flow analysis attempts to balance and advocate for these four assertions from each spouse: the party seeking maintenance as well as the party potentially party to be providing the financial resources.

How Many Years Do You Have to Be Married to Get Alimony in Minnesota?

Commonly, if you are not married for more than five years, spousal maintenance in MN may not be granted, or at least not permanently.

It may be awarded temporarily if you are financially dependent on your spouse, but if you are young enough to continue working, the Family Court may expect you to obtain job training or education in order to become self-sufficient.

Types of Alimony in Minnesota

Calculating alimony in Minnesota varies from case to case depending on the facts of each case. Maintenance can be temporary or permanent. Sometimes, both spouses can negotiate a private agreement which waives spousal maintenance in consideration of other monetary payments. Negotiating spousal maintenance requires a great deal of  competence and experience as it can have a long-lasting financial impact on both parties.  

Courts have broad discretion in determining the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award. While one judge may order that a spouse should receive a permanent spousal maintenance award, another judge may believe that a spousal maintenance award is unwarranted, even with the same facts presented. This is why it is important to engage an attorney experienced and competent in all aspects of spousal maintenance.

What is permanent alimony in Minnesota?

Permanent alimony means one spouse will be required to provide spousal maintenance to the other for the foreseeable future. Permanent spousal maintenance only ends with a court order, if the spouse receiving support remarries, or the spouse receiving support passes away. Typically, permanent support orders are only granted if the marriage lasted 20 or more years and one spouse earned substantially less than the other.

What is temporary spousal maintenance in Minnesota?

Temporary alimony can be ordered when one spouse earns less than the other but needs time to go back to school or find employment. It is also commonly referred to as rehabilitative maintenance and will end based on the date of the court order. The spouse receiving alimony can request an extension if necessary.

How Do I Get Out of Paying Alimony in Minnesota?

If there is a court order for alimony in MN, you cannot get out of it. You will be required to continue paying alimony unless or until the court order ends.

In cases where permanent alimony has been awarded, spousal maintenance can end when the spouse receiving support dies or remarries. These awards can also change if the spouse paying support retires or becomes disabled and can no longer earn a living.

A court order can be altered or amended, however, with a new decree – Alithis Family Law specializes in helping individuals improve or amend their spousal maintenance requirements.

What is Alimony Reform in Minnesota?

Minnesota has recently taken steps to reform spousal maintenance. Instead of having only permanent and temporary support, there is also non-modifiable alimony and state lump sum alimony. If extenuating circumstances apply and a permanent spousal maintenance order is in effect, the obligor can petition to modify the current alimony order.

Is Alimony Taxable in Minnesota?

Alimony used to be considered taxable at the federal level whether you were receiving or paying spousal maintenance. However, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019, any spousal maintenance order dated on or after January 1, 2019, is non-taxable. This means the spouse paying alimony cannot deduct their maintenance, and alimony is not considered taxable income for the recipient.

Connect With a Minnesota Alimony Attorney in MN Today

Searching for “spousal maintenance calculator MN?” It’s not quite that simple, but if you have questions about spousal maintenance awards, please call us today at 952-800-2025 or reach out via our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Our experienced family law attorneys in Minneapolis work with individuals and families both during divorce proceedings to find a fair spousal support situation (including both the spouse seeking maintenance or the payor), but also post- divorce decree to help amend alimony payments through the court system.

Share This Article