Is Permanent Alimony a Life Sentence?

Most people believe they will be married for the rest of their lives when they say their wedding vows. Unfortunately, they don’t always consider that something may happen that will lead to the marriage's demise. Because of this, unexpected things can happen.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is one of those things that happen after divorce. When one spouse earns more than the other, the higher-earning spouse will have a financial responsibility to the other. If the former spouse receiving the alimony payments doesn’t remarry, the payments continue until they pass away or the spouse makes them pass away. In other words, the payer can pay for the rest of their natural life. Even if the one receiving payments lives with a significant other who is not married to, they can continue to receive payments. This is something that is happening more and more.

Is Alimony Fair?

Even those not fans of permanent alimony state that there are good reasons for it. A disability is a perfect example, especially if that disability prevents the former spouse from receiving the payments from work or their ability to work is limited. On the other hand, permanent alimony is viewed as a way for a person who made the mistake of marrying the wrong person to pay for it for the rest of their life.

Even payments from lottery winnings typically end after 20 years, while permanent alimony can continue even through retirement, although the court can reduce the number of payments. Unfortunately, several senior citizens lose a portion of their Social Security checks to a former spouse.

The following is an example: In 2003, a man divorced his wife and remarried in 2005. He was ordered to pay his ex-wife $80,000 annually in alimony. That was 30% of his income. When the recession occurred, and his income decreased, the annual amount was lowered to $71,000. Unfortunately, that $71,000 was 57% of his annual income.

Why does Alimony Exist?

Alimony exists because the breadwinning spouse supports the dependent spouse. The dependent spouse may not be able to survive on their income alone, or they may have no income at all. Typically, alimony is awarded when there is a need and usually only for a fixed amount of time. Minnesota awards alimony to have an income while working toward finding another job, going to school, or achieving a raise or increasing position at a current job. Once that goal is achieved or the receiving spouse remarries, alimony stops.

The reason why Minnesota puts limits on alimony is to prevent individuals from being deterred from working to better their lives. It is also designed to keep the paying spouse from having to pay for the rest of their life. There are instances when alimony is paid longer, but they are rare. But as long as there is a valid need, payments may have to be made.

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