A Look at Minnesota Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Law

Whether you are going through a divorce or you are a parent who is not married, you want to protect your future while doing what is right for your children. An experienced attorney can help you understand how child support and spousal maintenance are determined, and can calculate these financial obligations within the parameters of the law. At Loftness Law Office, P.A., I understand the law, the process, the methods of calculation, and the various options available to you.

How Child Support Works in Minnesota

In Minnesota, child support obligations are determined by calculations that are governed by state guidelines. While those guidelines provide the presumptive method for calculating support, there are several independent variables used in that calculation, any of which might be disputed. You and the other parent can work together to develop a child support calculation that you think is appropriate, but it cannot stray too far from the statutory guidelines, or the judge may not accept your agreement. Even though child support is paid to the parent, it is financial support for the children, so judges will ensure that the child support calculation is done correctly.

Are There Guidelines for Spousal Maintenance in Minnesota?

Spousal maintenance, previously referred to as alimony, is sometimes paid to a former spouse if that spouse is not fully self-supporting at the time of the divorce. Spousal maintenance is different from child support in that the purpose is to support the former spouse, not the child. In examining spousal maintenance claims, a number of factors are considered, including the ages of the parties, the health of the parties, their education, their work experience, their income or earning capacity, whether one of them stayed home to raise children, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Unlike child support, there are no statutory guidelines for determining whether spousal maintenance should be ordered, or what amount of spousal maintenance is appropriate when it is ordered. It comes down to analyzing one spouse’s need for maintenance and the other spouse’s ability to pay maintenance.

Since there are no presumptive methods for calculating spousal maintenance, cases with spousal maintenance issues can be very difficult to resolve and are unpredictable when submitted to a judge for determination. Judges have wide discretion to determine these issues, and one judge might view your situation quite differently from how another judge might view it. It helps to have an attorney who will make sure the judge fully considers all relevant factors in your case.

Some issues that may arise when considering spousal maintenance claims include:

  • Some people overlook the fact that, after the divorce, they will be living in two separate households, with two sets of household expenses, yet with the same source(s) of income they had during the marriage. Accordingly, both parties may need to adjust their household budgets when they get divorced.
  • Some people don’t realize until they get divorced that they had been living beyond their financial means during the marriage.  Those parties may need to reduce their discretionary spending instead of requesting maintenance to maintain an unrealistic or unsustainable lifestyle.
  • A spouse may need more financial support immediately after the divorce than they will need later.  Spousal maintenance obligations can be structured to fit different situations.
  • Just because a spouse is capable of working but isn’t working doesn’t necessarily mean that a judge will not grant spousal maintenance, and just because a spouse is not working doesn’t necessarily mean that a judge will grant spousal maintenance.
  • Unlike child support, spousal maintenance can be waived if certain conditions are met.

Contact A Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Lawyer Today

Whether you are involved in a dispute over child support, or you want to develop a realistic spousal maintenance plan, it is always beneficial to understand the different options available. Contact me today to set up an initial consultation. You can reach me by phone at 952-641-7485, or you may fill out an appointment request form online.