Divorce & Spousal Maintenance

Divorce & Spousal Maintenance


In Minnesota, divorce is also called a “dissolution of marriage.”  A divorce ends the marital relationship between two spouses and decides the related issues of child custody, parenting time, spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) child support, and property division.

Divorce & Spousal Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

How much will my divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce depends on the complexity of the situation. Lallemont Law collects an initial retainer of $2,500 which will apply toward fees
and expenses. Expenses can include, but are not limited to: attorney fees; court filing fees; mediation fees; service fees; and Gardian ad Litem fees.  Lallemont Law, LLC works with clients to keep costs at a minimum.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal Maintenance, formerly called alimony, is defined by Minnesota Statute §518.003 as “an award made in a dissolution or legal separation proceeding of payments from the future income or earnings of one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other.” Basically, spousal maintenance a payment from one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce or legal separation action has been completed. Unlike child support, there is no exact formula or rule to determine if maintenance is appropriate or how much, if any, maintenance should be awarded.

How does the court determine how much Spousal Maintenance is awarded?

Minnesota law does not provide a cut-and-dry method of determining spousal maintenance in a divorce case. It simply lays out the multifactor process the court uses  during any spousal maintenance case.

Other unique questions that Angela can help you answer about spousal maintenance include:

  • Does the length of my marriage determine how much support I will pay or receive?
  • Does my age affect how much spousal maintenance I will receive or pay?
  • Does my spouse’s age affect how much spousal maintenance I will receive or pay?
  • I do not work, do I need to find a job? Should I be looking for work? What is appropriate employment for me and/or my spouse?
  • Will I have to move? Can I keep my house?
  • Can I afford to keep my current vehicle?
  • What expenses can I include in my budget?
  • How can my spouse prove he/she requires ongoing financial support?
  • Can I change the amount of spousal support I pay?
  • How do I change my child support or spousal support if my income has changed?
  • My former spouse recently remarried. Will that change my spousal maintenance obligation?
I have never been through a divorce, what should I expect?

Angela will meet with you for an initial consultation and explain the divorce process at that time.  Expect that Lallemont Law will keep you informed throughout the process and be by you every step of the way.

What is the process to get a divorce in Minnesota?

To file for a divorce in Minnesota, you or your spouse must live in Minnesota for 180 days (6 months) before you file. A divorce is filed in the county where one or both spouses live.

A divorce proceeding begins when one spouse (called the Petitioner) serves the other spouse (called the Respondent) with a Summons and Petition.

The Summons and Petition sets forth the petitioner’s legal positions on the issues in the divorce (property, maintenance, custody, child support, etc.). The Summons and Petition must be personally served upon the other spouse (Respondent).

The Respondent then has 30 days to prepare and serve an answer. The Answer admits or denies the allegations (statements) in the Petition. If the respondent serves an Answer, s/he generally also serves a counter-petition which states what the Respondent’s legal position is on the issues in the divorce.

The time for the Respondent to answer can be extended if it looks like the parties will come to an agreement and settle the issues.

The divorce can be concluded in a few different ways, including:

  •  The parties can resolve all issues between themselves and enter into a “stipulation” (also called a martial termination agreement) which sets forth their agreement. The stipulation is reviewed by the judge and once it is signed, the parties are divorced.
  • The parties can use a mediator, engage in a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE), and/or attend a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) to help settle the issues in their case and enter into a stipulation.
  • After the parties and their attorneys gather information through a process called discovery (where each party requests information from the other on the issues they do not agree upon) and then try to come to an agreement.
  • If the parties do not agree, they can go before the judge for a trial and present all evidence and witnesses supporting their opinion. After trial, the judge has 90 days to make a final decision.
How long does it take to get a divorce?

The time a divorce takes depends on how many issues are in dispute, how complex the case is, and how busy the court is. If there is already a basic agreement between the parties or little in dispute, the proceeding may be concluded in a couple of months. For complex cases with a lot of issues, it can take 12 to 18 months for a final hearing.

My spouse cheated on me, does this mean I can get a divorce?

Minnesota is a no fault state, which means the only requirement  for a divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.” An irretrievable breakdown occurs when there is no prospect that the parties can resolve their differences and the marriage cannot be saved.