A key element of many divorces is determining whether one spouse should receive financial support from the other after they have gone their separate ways. Whether it's called spousal support, spousal maintenance or alimony, it is awarded when one of the partners does not have adequate resources to support him- or herself after the divorce.
Spousal support laws and how the awarding of spousal support is determined by the courts vary considerably among the states. They even vary here in the Fargo/Moorhead area since it includes two states. Our firm practices law in both North Dakota and Minnesota and knows the intricacies of family law in both.
In Minnesota, the awarding of spousal support to someone is determined by specific factors. The courts look at whether that person is able to earn an income. If that person has primary custody of the children, he or she may be unable to earn enough to support the family without spousal support. The courts also look at whether the person seeking support needs it to maintain the lifestyle he or she had while married.
Under Minnesota law, the court cannot consider such things as whether a spouse was unfaithful, abandoned the family, or engaged in emotional cruelty or other bad behavior during the marriage when determining whether someone is required to pay spousal support and how much.
North Dakota law is far broader when it comes to the determination of alimony. Courts are allowed to consider the particular circumstances of both of the parties involved. This means that if one spouse has been negligent, abusive or has deserted the other one, his or her actions can be considered in the awarding of spousal maintenance. The court can also order the support to continue for however long it chooses.
Regardless of which state you get your divorce in, it's essential to have representation by lawyers experienced in divorce cases there and who know how to work within the law to get the best possible outcome for their clients. For more information on our unique approach to each of our clients going through the divorce process, visit our website.
Source: Melinda Weerts Law, PLLC, "Spousal Support" Aug. 30, 2014