In marriage and divorce, often both parties are not on completely equal levels regarding their respective income. This often results in the parties leaving the marriage with different standards of living and disposable income.
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is not as common as it once was in Minnesota divorces. Minnesota law defines who qualifies to receive spousal maintenance based on a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the ability of each party to support themselves to that level on their own. If there is a larger disparity in income and one party can meet their needs while contributing to the finances of the other, then maintenance may be awarded.
Spousal maintenance may be temporary or permanent in nature. If one party has a lower earning capacity at the time of the divorce but with a few years of retraining or further education, that spouse would be capable of supporting themselves, then the court will probably order temporary maintenance. If it was a very long-term marriage and there is no conceivable way the other spouse could earn enough to support the standard of living or there are medical concerns that bar the spouse from working, however, the court may opt for an award of permanent spousal maintenance instead.