The news of Alimony’s death (technically called spousal support or spousal maintenance in Minnesota) in Minnesota has been greatly exaggerated. Alimony is alive and well in Minnesota and is often the most difficult area of family law to deal with. Why you ask? Well, it’s because there are no hard numbers, no “alimony calculator” that we can punch in to get precise amounts. Most of it is done by experience and what “feels” like a fair settlement. One thing to point out is that alimony does not equal a pure 50-50 division of income.
The only guidance we tend to have is Minnesota Statute 518.52. This statute reads like a wish list of logical thinking, talking about standards of living, duration of marriage, age of the parties, etc. But really doesn’t give concrete guidance to a judge or the lawyers involved. While some states have calculators and some attorneys have tried to create a calculator (see this lawyers website for a fun example), there is nothing like that in Minnesota.
Most of the time alimony is decided on a gut level, when negotiating the alimony amount the lawyer must take a look at his or her experience, ability of the client to testify, and the Judge. The Judge is the key because most alimony cases are upheld on appeal.
Still don’t really believe maintenance is still ordered on a weekly basis in Minnesota Courts? Here are few very recent examples from the Minnesota Court of Appeals:
- Ostrosky v. Ostrosky, March 22, 2011: $5,000/month.
- Meether v. Meether, March 8, 2011: $1,000 /month.
- Iskierka v. Iskierka, March 8, 2011: $3,000/month.
Without boring you with the details, these case represent very common results in Minnesota and can happen when the wage earners are making $400,000 or even $50,000 per year. It’s critical that whomever you hire to represent you in your divorce has done MANY alimony cases, this is not the area of law to save some dollars and get the flat fee lawyer for $1,500 for the divorce, the amount of money involved can be hundreds of thousands of dollars and with that much at stake you need to take it seriously.
As always, if you have questions or comments either post them below or email me at www.rokolaw.com