Curtis v. Curtis – Minnesota Spousal Maintenance 2016

The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Curtis v. Curtis on January 12, 2016 (the June 22, 2015 decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court (which required a spouse to liquidate an award of property and assets to meet post-decree expenses).  In Minnesota, Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) is based upon need, and the equalization of cash flow (or available income) is not required or even addressed by Minnesota Statue 518.552.  In Minnesota, the trend over the past three (3) years has been more temporary (rehabilitative) spousal maintenance awards, and fewer permanent spousal maintenance awards.

Minnesota Spousal Maintenance and the Lack of Precise Formula

In Minnesota, Spousal Maintenance (unlike Child Support) does not provide the parties with a basic formula to determine if (and for what duration of time) money should be paid to one spouse during Divorce proceedings, or after a Divorce.  This creates a myriad of problems for parties, attorneys, financial experts, and for Judges.  Courts must use existing statutes and precedent to determine whether an award of Spousal Maintenance is appropriate under the specific facts of the case.  There is no rule (either written or unwritten) that that states that the duration of spousal maintenance should be one-half the length of the marriage.  

The Use of Financial Experts and Spousal Maintenance

The use of a Financial Expert (in some case a neutral CPA pursuant to a Rule 706 Order) can provide valuable assistance in crafting a spousal maintenance award (or in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate given the individual facts of the case).  An experienced CPA can provide the parties with various financial scenarios based on income, tax rates, child support, asset division and rate of return on investments to present a picture of the post-decree financial positions of each party.  Many times, a party will use their own CPA to run financial schedules and scenarios.  

Financial Experts and Asset Valuation

In some Divorce cases, other financial experts may be required in order to provide valuations of various assets, such as a 401k, 403b, 457, Related Qualified Plan, ESOP, IRA or Pension (including Pensions for Teachers, Nurses, Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Carpenters, Professors, Electricians, Plumbers, Police Officers and Firefighter).  

Experienced Local Minneapolis Divorce Law Firm

Located in the historic Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Lake Harriet Law Office, LLC Attorneys Randall A. Smith and Amber C. Bretl provide outstanding legal representation exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family Law.   

Lake Harriet Law Office represents clients in Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, Linden Hills, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, St. Paul, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Anoka County, St. Louis Park and Scott County. 

Please call 612-750-4843 or complete the Contact Us form to schedule an office consultation.

Randall A. Smith – Principal Attorney  612-750-4843

Amber C. Bretl – Associate Attorney      612-23-8925



Published On: January 5, 2016Categories: Family Law Updates

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