Minnesota’s new Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill (HF 1333), which was passed with overwhelming support in both the Minnesota legislative house and senate, went into effect on August 1, 2016. This law applies to individuals that were married, divorced and are now cohabitating with another adult, but are still receiving alimony from their ex-spouse. The idea behind this law is that previously, alimony or spousal maintenance as it is called in Minnesota would end when the person receiving spousal maintenance, called the obligee would remarry. There was a belief that many spousal maintenance obligees were delaying marriage just so that their spousal maintenance payments from their ex-spouses would not end, but were cohabitating and in marriage-like relationships. This law attempts to address this situation and allows the person paying spousal maintenance to make a motion to the court to modify future payments of spousal maintenance if the obligee is cohabitating with another adult, including reducing, suspending, reserving or even terminating the spousal maintenance payments.
In determining whether to modify spousal maintenance, the court must consider the following factors:
1) Whether the obligee would marry the cohabitant but for the spousal maintenance award;
2) The economic benefit the obligee derives from the cohabitation;
3)The length of cohabitation and the likely future duration of the cohabitation; and
4)The economic impact on the obligee if spousal maintenance is modified and the cohabitation ends.
However, this law also provides that modification of spousal maintenance must be precluded or limited to the extent that the parties having agreed to this in their divorce decree and the court made specific findings that the agreement is fair and equitable, is supported by consideration, and that a full disclosure of each party’s financial circumstances has occurred. This new law also does not apply to obligees that move in with family members, like siblings or parents, because it does not apply to persons that the obligee would not be allowed to marry under Minnesota Law. In addition, A motion to modify spousal maintenance under the new law cannot be brought within one year of the date of the order awarding spousal maintenance unless the court finds that failing to allow the motion would create an extreme hardship or the parties agree to explicitly allow a motion to modify spousal support within the first year in their decree of dissolution or separation.
Because this is a very new law and it is unclear how the courts will interpret and apply the factors, it is important to talk to an experienced family law attorney if you are seeking to modify your spousal maintenance obligation or are an obligee trying to prevent modification of your spousal maintenance payments. To speak with an experienced family law attorney regarding spousal maintenance modification, contact Tentinger Law Firm at 952-953-3330 or use our quick contact form.