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.
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.
There are two grounds for an award of spousal maintenance:
- Spousal maintenance can be awarded if there are insufficient assets to support a party at the marital standard of living.
- Spousal maintenance can be awarded if a spouse is not self-supporting.
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. In Passolt, the Court of Appeals stated that a finding of “bad faith” was not required before imputing income to a spousal maintenance recipient.
In most spousal maintenance cases, a CPA (and sometimes a CFP) will be required to prepare and present cash flow calculations and other financial scenarios to the Court.
Lake Harriet Law Office represents clients in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Scott County, Anoka County and throughout the Twin Cities and Minneapolis. Please call 612-750-4843 to schedule a consultation.