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Figuring out divorce-related alimony details

Alimony, or spousal support, is one of the big issues most people in Minnesota and other states associate with the divorce process. However, the exact needs of a lower-earning spouse after a marriage ends can't be determined until marital property and other joint assets are fully assessed and divided. Once it's clear what each soon-to-be-ex will end up with, the task of figuring out alimony details can begin.

While state laws concerning spousal support can vary, there are some common factors considered. In addition to the recipient spouse's financial needs, these factors include the paying spouse's ability to make alimony payments, the recipient spouse's previous lifestyle during marriage, the length of the marriage, and the age and overall health of both parting spouses. Courts also tend to consider whether minor children are involved and what non-marital assets a lower-earning spouse may have when determining if there's sufficient need for spousal assistance.

In some situations, a court may award what's termed rehabilitative maintenance. This is temporary financial help that's given to a former spouse until they are able to gain their financial independence, which may involve finding a job or going back to school to gain new skills. Spousal support, in general, usually has an end date. Payments can also be affected by changes in circumstances, such as the recipient spouse getting remarried or earning more income.

If a divorce attorney is representing the paying spouse, they might suggest making alimony non-modifiable to maintain consistency with payments. An annuity contract can also be created to make it easier for a paying spouse to manage payments. For the receiving spouse, a lawyer may suggest requiring the payor to have disability insurance so that payments won't be disrupted if they become injured. If the payor unexpectedly dies, their life insurance funds might be used to continue payments.

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