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How Long Does Child Support Last?

If you are divorcing and are required to pay support to your ex-husband or ex-wife, then you likely want to know how long your support obligation will last for. The answer to this question is different depending upon the type of support you’ve been ordered to pay and the financial issues that were involved in your divorce. The best way to learn the answer to this question is to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney who can advise you of your rights and obligations when it comes to spousal support and who can help you to make sure that any spousal support order is fair to you.

How Long Does Spousal Support in Minnesota Last For?

The amount of time that you are going to have to pay support to your ex-spouse will depend upon whether the alimony award (or spousal support award) is permanent or temporary.

If your spouse has the ability to be self supporting and to earn an income that is reasonably comparable to yours but just needs a little time to get on his or her feet, then your spousal support order will likely be temporary. For example, if your spouse left the workforce to care for your children but has good skills and credentials and can go back to work, then you may have to pay temporary support that lasts long enough to give your spouse time to renew any job qualifications necessary and to find a new job.

On the other hand, if the earning disparity is not likely ever to be resolved and/or if your spouse does not have the ability to be self-supporting, then the alimony or spousal support order may be permanent. This means you would have to continue to pay spousal support on an ongoing or indefinite basis.

Even permanent spousal support, however, does not always mean you will be paying alimony for the rest of your (or your spouse’s) life.  Typically, your alimony payments would stop if your spouse got remarried and in some cases would also cease if your spouse began to live with a romantic partner.

Your alimony payments can also sometimes stop when you retire, although this is not always the case. Once you have retired, the determining factor in whether the spousal support payments will stop is whether you have enough income coming in to continue your support obligation.  Retirement funds earned during marriage won’t count in assessing retirement income because those funds are dealt with and divided during the divorce settlement.  If you have enough income to keep paying during retirement, then you will have to continue to pay alimony even after you are no longer working for a living.

There have been trends away from permanent alimony in recent years, so the number of situations where you’ll have to pay support until death are relatively rare. You should, however, make sure that you do everything to protect your rights during a divorce so you don’t end up paying more spousal support than is reasonable under the circumstances. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you to make sure that you get a fair support deal.

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