Spousal maintenance, formerly known as “alimony”, is not as common as is often believed. The typical spousal maintenance case involves a long-term marriage where one spouse did not work outside of the home, but rather stayed home and cared for the children or the household. They either have no higher education or it is outdated, causing the need to obtain more schooling to be able to work in the field.

Spousal maintenance can either be permanent or temporary in nature. There is nothing in the statutes to favor temporary spousal maintenance over a permanent award.

The court looks at multiple factors to determine if spousal maintenance is appropriate, but the biggest factors to consider are the need of the spouse requesting maintenance, the ability of the other spouse to pay, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

There are tax implications for characterizing a settlement as a maintenance payment rather than a property settlement. If the divorcing parties have enough assets to arrange for a property settlement to support the receiving spouse, it may be the better option. However, there are benefits to each option and they should be weighed in discussions with your Minnesota divorce attorney.