Maintenance is Not a Lifetime Profit Sharing Plan

Spousal Maintenance Cannot be Determined by Equalizing Income. June 18, 2018

There are eight factors a court must consider when determining an appropriate amount and duration for spousal maintenance (see case link on our website to January, 2019 decision listing the 8 factors). Some people, even attorneys, think spouses should have equal income following the divorce. Minnesota case law over the years though has clearly stated maintenance should not based on an equalization of income.

In Snyder v. Snyder (298 Minn. 43, 53, 212 N.W.2d 869, 875 (1973)) the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that maintenance exists to provide for the recipient spouse’s needs, not to act as a “lifetime profit-sharing plan”. Judges have a lot of discretion though when determining maintenance. The District Court judge in this case reasoned that he was giving the parties equal opportunity to maintain the marital standard of living after the divorce. While this could be interpreted to mean he was equalizing income, the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court both defended the District Court’s decision. The parties in this case did essentially end up equalizing income but the analysis used to get there was not as simple as just "equalizing income". This may leave the possibility of equalizing income open for interpretation.

To read the entire decision, click on the link below. For more personal advice on your situation, please contact us.

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