Minnesota’s statutes (Minnesota Statutes, 1999, 518. 552) provide an example of state criteria, since the current study used data from Minnesota: Subdivision 1.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or in a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse and which has since acquired jurisdiction, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: (a)
Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse, considering the standard of living established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of training or education; or (b) is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
The maintenance order shall be in amounts and for periods of time, either temporary or permanent, as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including the: (a) Financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party, and the party’s ability to meet needs independently including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian; (b) time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability, given the party’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming fully or partially self-supporting; (c) standard of living established during the marriage;
(d) duration of the marriage and, in the case of a homemaker, the length of absence from employment and the extent to which any education, skills, or experiences have become outmoded, and earning capacity has become permanently diminished; (e) loss of earnings, seniority, retirement benefits, and other employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance; (f) age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(g) ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (h) contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or in furtherance of the other party’s employment or business (Minnesota Statute, 518. 552, 1999).
Minnesota has allowed considerable discretion for the court to consider a “balance” of the statutory factors, however the general standard of “considering need against the other spouse’s ability to pay,” is followed (Spain, 2001).
Spain explained that although Minnesota law does not consider fault, marital misconduct may be considered relevant and may be taken into account indirectly. For example, economic waste and loss of financial expectations that result in reduced earning capacity can be taken into consideration. Although the statutes listed above are unique to Minnesota, the discretionary nature of these statutes, are similar to those of other states. There is considerable criticism for the lack of any unified basis for awarding maintenance, as well as for the wide discretion that statutes afford the courts (Starnes, 1993).