As so often in life, when a topic is new to someone, the language related to that topic may be daunting and incomprehensible. The same may hold true when it comes to divorce. One aspect of divorce that may confuse and overwhelm someone in the midst of the situation is alimony.
In Minnesota, alimony is a lawful duty a spouse may have to pay to his or her ex in order to ensure the person is in a similar financial position as before the divorce. At minimum, the support will continue until the beneficiary has found his or her feet financially. Spousal maintenance is not an absolute right, but it may be awarded when relevant. The length of the marriage, as well as career sacrifices made by one person to support his or her partner or in order to care for their children, will be taken into consideration to determine if and how much maintenance should be paid.
Whereas child support refers to payments made by one of the parents to the custodial parent in order to assist with the costs involved, spousal support focuses on providing support to the lower earning spouse. Both these financial remedies may be awarded to one party when relevant. Importantly, it should be noted that spousal support is a court order, which means it is legally enforceable, and disregarding it may even lead to jail time.
Ideally, reaching a mutual agreement on how much alimony a lesser earning spouse is entitled to and for how long is the best possible option. An experienced Minnesota family law attorney can assist parties in reaching such an agreement. Should no agreement be reached, a judge will have to decide on the terms, which can lead to much higher costs and less-than-favorable outcomes.
Source: marriage.com, "What Is Alimony", Accessed on April 24, 2018