Spousal support is one of the most controversial parts of a Hutchinson divorce. There are strong feelings on both sides. Many people feel that alimony is basically a financial penalty. Others counter that most divorced women would perpetually live in poverty without these payments.
Many states have substantially overhauled their spousal support laws. Nearby Illinois redid its family laws in 2016. About that same time, Minnesota lawmakers tinkered with reform. A bill making it easier to modify spousal support passed 112-9 in the House and 45-12 in the Senate.
Advocates hoped that this change would create momentum for further change. But for better or for worse, that did not happen. So, Hutchinson family law cases still involve subjective spousal support laws, as outlined below.
Duration of Spousal Support Payments
In a nutshell, McLeod County judges may award temporary alimony and/or long-term alimony.
Typically, about two weeks after a spouse files a divorce petition, a Hutchinson family law judge will hold a temporary hearing. Temporary alimony is usually an issue at this hearing. These payments help the oblige spouse meet immediate expenses like:
- Attorneys’ fees,
- Rental/Utility deposits, and
- Daycare expenses.
If the requesting spouse is the respondent, the judge just needs proof of financial need, and the judge usually enters a support order. If the requesting spouse is the petitioner, the inquiry could be a bit more complex. If there is evidence that the requesting spouse contacted an attorney several months before filing the petition, a Hutchinson family law attorney could argue that s/he should have been saving money. Therefore, it is unfair to make the other spouse financially subsidize the failure to plan.
Temporary alimony terminates when the case ends. Many divorce orders include provisions for short-term alimony. These payments are designed to help the requesting spouse become economically self-sufficient. The money could be for things like:
- School tuition, or
- An additional income stream to bridge the gap between married and single life.
Short-term alimony rarely lasts for more than three or five years. The length is usually based on the amount of time the requesting spouse needs to obtain economic self-sufficiency.
Occasionally, a Hutchinson family law judge will order long-term alimony. These payments are appropriate if the marriage lasted at least ten years or the requesting spouse cannot achieve economic self-sufficiency. For example, the spouse might have a physical, mental, or other disability. Or, the spouse may have custody of a severely disabled child.
Hutchinson Family Law and Amount of Alimony Payments
Determining the amount of payments is also a rather subjective process. In child support cases, there are set guidelines which are presumed reasonable and based on a limited number of factors. But with regard to spousal support, Hutchinson family law judges may set almost any amount after considering a number of factors, including:
- Requesting Spouse’s Financial Need: As mentioned, some spouses need help paying the bills for a while after a divorce. For example, Wife may need to work at a low-paying job until she re-establishes herself in the workforce.
- Paying Spouse’s Financial Resources: Ability to pay is a factor. Under Minnesota law, the divorce cannot be an unfair financial burden for either party.
- Agreements Between the Parties: Many spouses have premarital agreements that set caps on spousal support payments. As long as the contract is not blatantly one-sided and both spouses had an equal voice in the agreement, a Hutchinson family law judge will almost always uphold it.
- Tax Consequences: This factor will change significantly in January 2019. The IRS will end the tax deduction for alimony payments and no longer require recipient spouses to report the income. No one is sure whether this change will help divorced women, help divorced men, or not help anyone.
- Standard of Living During the Marriage: Divorce almost always reduces a family’s standard of living. Statistically, this reduction is more pronounced among divorced women. So, this factor weighs in favor of higher spousal support payments.
- Current and Future Economic Status: People who get higher marital property shares need less alimony. The same thing goes for people with large awards of nonmarital property. In terms of future income, no Hutchinson family law judge has a crystal ball. However, as a general rule, young, healthy, and/or well-educated people usually earn more than older, sickly, and/or poorly-educated people.
- Noneconomic Contributions to the Marriage: If the requesting spouse put a career on hold to become the primary caregiver, the “homemaker factor” may be quite significant. In other cases, not so much.
Both the amount and duration of payments may be modified later based on changed financial circumstances. Income and status changes are the two big ones. Retirement may be a basis for modification, unless the paying spouse retired to avoid making alimony payments. The aforementioned 2016 change made it easier to modify payments based on cohabitation.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Lawyer
Spousal support is an important part of most divorce cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.