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Do Alimony Payments Ever End?

After a divorce, you may agree to or a judge may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other. Depending on the specific order or agreement, your alimony payments may continue indefinitely. However, there are some circumstances in which spousal support eventually ends.

Temporary and short-term vs. long-term maintenance

Minnesota offers three types of alimony, or spousal maintenance: temporary, short-term and long-term. Both temporary and short-term alimony have a natural end date. A judge will specify when the maintenance ends, and the supported spouse is entitled to ask for an extension.

Long-term maintenance may be awarded when a spouse with lower or no earning potential can never become self-supporting. This is often awarded in situations where one spouse has a disability or has been out of the job market for so long, they will not be able to earn a sufficient income. However, long-term maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean “’til death do you pay.”

When can long-term alimony end?

While temporary and short-term alimony come with automatic end dates, long-term alimony can continue indefinitely. Long-term alimony may end when:

  • One spouse dies: If either spouse dies, alimony is terminated.
  • A significant change in circumstances: Changes in circumstance can warrant alimony modification or termination. This includes changes in employment status, inability to pay and other situations, on a case-by-case basis.
  • The supported spouse gets married: Spousal support typically ends when the supported spouse marries another person.
  • The supported spouse is cohabitating with a partner: If the supported spouse is cohabitating with a new partner, and 12 months has passed since the initial support order, the paying spouse may request modification or termination. The judge will evaluate several factors to determine whether termination is appropriate.

For experienced divorce and family law assistance in St. Paul, MN, contact Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. today.

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