Spousal maintenance (also referred to as alimony) is one of the most challenging and difficult issues associated with divorce. The outcome is often unpredictable and frequently litigated in courts throughout Minnesota (particularly in Hennepin County). The proposed payment and receipt of spousal maintenance is often times associated with strong emotional issues and can cause parties that are otherwise in full agreement to become adversarial and contentious.
Judicial discretion is a major component of spousal maintenance. The decision by a Judge to award spousal maintenance to either spouse is permissive, which means that a court may grant a spousal maintenance order. The first step is to convince a Judge that there are grounds to award spousal maintenance, which can be a daunting task considering the current state of the US economy.
There are two grounds for an award of spousal maintenance:
A third factor that can also apply is whether the spouse seeking maintenance is the custodian of a minor child whose circumstances make it appropriate that the spouse not work outside of the home.
Issues such as which property is considered an asset, what types of income can be considered, the marital standard of living and appropriate employment are analyzed by the Judge to determine whether spousal maintenance is awarded. Often times the court is forced to make a very difficult decision.
In 2011, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in the Passolt v. Passolt case made a substantial ruling that impacted how Courts will view spousal maintenance cases going forward.
Randall A. Smith is the founder and principal attorney of Lake Harriet Law Office and has practiced law since 1996. Mr. Smith earned his B.A. from Hamline University, his J.D. from Drake University and his M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas.
Lake Harriet Law Office represents clients in Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Southwest Minneapolis, Linden Hills, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, St. Paul, Wright County, Anoka County and Scott County.