How Long Is An Alimony Order Enforceable For?

Husband, an attorney, and Wife divorce in Minnesota in 1978.

The family court orders Husband to pay Wife $20,000 in alimony or spousal support.

Years later, Husband still hasn’t paid some of the alimony owed.

Husband claims to have a history a post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his military service, alcoholism, substance abuse, depression and schizophrenia, and that those conditions prevented him from continuing to practice law or earn a living.

But Wife obtains a judgment establishing Husband’s arrears for spousal support.

The years (in all, more than thirty of them) tick by and Husband still hasn’t paid all of the alimony he owes.

Wife sues him again every ten years … because that is how long a judgment is good for in Minnesota. Successive lawsuits are how the ten year limit is dealt with, procedurally, in Minnesota.

Wife’s most recent attempt to renew her judgment against Husband is, however, rejected by the divorce court, with a dismissal.

Husband’s position is that he did not have the ability to pay the ordered spousal support amounts at the times they were ordered.

It may reasonably be inferred that Husband does have the present ability to pay the judgments.

Legally, the primary issue under Minnesota law would seem to be how many times a support order (or, for that matter, any judgment) may be renewed.

Wife appeals the family court ruling to Minnesota’s Court of Appeals.

Which reverses the order denying renewal of her judgment against Husband.

Then Husband appeals that ruling.

And now final resolution of the issue rests with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Florida judgments may be enforced for a period of up to twenty years if timely renewed before expiration.

Read more in this [Minneapolis-St. Paul] Pioneer Press article: 1970s alimony dispute isn’t over.