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Why marriage length can matter with spousal maintenance

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Family Law

When it comes to spousal maintenance in Minnesota, the duration of the marriage plays an important role.

For example, courts may consider marriage length when deciding the amount of spousal maintenance payments. The same goes for the duration of payments.

Short-term marriages

The median household income in Minnesota is $84,313, which can drop after a divorce. In short-term marriages, typically those lasting less than five years, significant spousal maintenance is less common. This is because both parties have gone through a relatively brief period of financial interdependence. In such cases, the court may prioritize each individual’s ability to independently support themselves after the divorce.

Moderate-term marriages

For marriages lasting between five and 20 years, the courts face a more complex scenario. In these moderate-term marriages, the court aims to strike a balance between financial interdependence and self-sufficiency. Spousal maintenance in these cases may be more transitional. The goal would be to assist the lower-earning spouse in adjusting to a post-divorce financial reality.

Long-term marriages

Long-term marriages are those lasting more than 20 years. The court often places a higher emphasis on the financial contributions and sacrifices of both spouses. In such cases, spousal maintenance may be more likely, especially if there is a significant disparity in the earning capacities of the spouses. The goal is to ensure a fair standard of living for both parties, acknowledging the lengthy period of financial interdependence.

Exceptional circumstances

While the length of the marriage is a primary consideration, the courts in Minnesota also recognize that each case is unique. In exceptional circumstances, such as when one spouse faces significant challenges in achieving financial independence, the court may deviate from the norm and award spousal maintenance accordingly.

The duration of the marriage in Minnesota holds substantial weight in determining spousal maintenance. It reflects the court’s commitment to fairness, taking into account the financial interdependence that develops over time while promoting the self-sufficiency of both parties after a divorce.

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