Spousal Maintenance – What it Is


Spousal maintenance, which used to be called alimony, is money paid by a high earning spouse to a low earning spouse every month so that
the low earning spouse can continue to enjoy the standard of living established during the marriage.  Usually people think of the long employed husband paying the stay at home mom who has been out of work for so long she really does not have the ability to earn much on her own.


Spousal Maintenance and Jeff Passolt


In a case involving the divorce of local television personality Jeff Passolt, the Court of Appeals recently clarified the law involving spousal maintenance.  The Court of Appeals clarified that when deciding how much spousal maintenance should be paid, a judge can consider the stay at home parent’s ability to rehabilitate her earning capacity after the divorce by doing things like taking classes, earning a degree or activating a  professional license.  The judge does not have to find the stay at home parent is in bad faith purposefully keeping her income low before doing so.


Stepping it Down


What this makes possible is a “step down” approach to spousal maintenance awards.  For example, a judge may order the husband to pay $5,000 a month in spousal maintenance for four years, then only $2,000 a month thereafter on the assumption that the wife will go back to school and  significantly increase her earning capacity.  If the wife decides to simply stay at home, work part time jobs, and not go to school, that is her  choice.  But her spousal maintenance payments are going to decrease after the four years whether she likes it or not.


Carol J. Mayer is an experienced divorce attorney who can help make sure you are treated fairly in the process.  Carol J. Mayer represents clients in all metropolitan counties and cities including but not limited to Sibley, Carver, Scott, Anoka, Hennepin, Stearns, Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Brown, Nicollet, Arlington, Gaylord, McLeod, Chaska, Hutchinson, Mankato, Shakopee, Prior Lake, Belle Plaine, Jordan, and many more.