Spousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support or alimony, is the financial support one spouse pays to the other. Spousal maintenance can be temporary or permanent. In Minnesota, no specific formula determines the amount or duration for which spousal support is paid. However, Minnesota law has determined some factors which a court may consider when determining the appropriate amount and duration, if any, of spousal support in each case.

Some of these factors include:

  • The financial need of each party
  • The earning capacity of each party
  • If the financial need of a party can be overcome, and how long it might take to do so
  • Whether the potential payor has the means to pay spousal maintenance
  • Length of the marriage
  • The quality of life enjoyed by the parties during their marriage
  • Ages of the parties


Modifying spousal support is no easy feat, however there are several reasons why this type of action may be possible, some of which include change of income, health, or relationships.

Other factors impacting the ability to modify spousal support are nuptial agreements or the existence of a Karon waiver with the existing court order.

A Karon waiver, a term used in Minnesota divorce law is based upon the legal precedent set in Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501 (Minn. 1989). In a Karon waiver, the parties stipulate that there will be no future modification of spousal maintenance at the time the award is made. It is a waiver of the statutory right to modification of maintenance.

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