Spousal Support: Michigan’s Guidelines to Obtain Alimony

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Alimony is a term that many of us have heard and know. When a couple gets divorced, one of the parties receives money from a spouse who once supplemented their income. The factors of “alimony,” known formally as spousal support, differ depending on your situation. Many single parents and stay-at-home parents are very concerned about making ends meet after not working for years. Their partner was the one “bringing home the bacon.” Law has worked 39+ years in divorce and custody proceedings and can help you navigate if you qualify for spousal support and the State of Michigan’s guidelines.

The State of Michigan has fourteen factors that they look at when granting a person spousal support (or not). The court focuses on “the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances in the case,” according to MCL 552.23.

These factors are as follows:

  • Past relations and conduct of the parties – In other words, how the married couple had previously acted in the marriage? This also considers “fault” in the breakdown of the marriage, factoring in infidelity, substance abuse, or even domestic violence.
  • Length of the marriage – A long-term marriage is important when factoring in if a spouse has no marketable skills or career.
  • Ability to work – The court focuses on if they seriously doubt one party’s ability to gain employment.
  • Income Source and amount of property awarded to parties – Here, the court focuses on earning potential of the marital assets given to the spouse to whom these assets were awarded. It is also essential when both parties own assets, and there’s a monetary disparity between their respective incomes.
  • Ages of the parties – An older spouse may have a more challenging time self-supporting. The courts take the ages of each of the parties into account.
  • The abilities of the burdened party to pay spousal support – There are many different factors in considering the ability to pay spousal support. Some sources used in determining ability to pay are earnings, pension plans, unemployment compensation, tax refunds, and social security benefits. Factors relevant to the ability to pay are:
  1. Parties’ employment history
  2. Reasons for any termination of employment
  3. Work opportunities available
  4. Diligence in trying to find a job
  5. Availability of employment
  • The present situation of the parties – The court reviews the present and future needs of the party requesting support and the opposing party’s ability to continue to pay.
  • Needs of the parties – The court reviews the current and future needs of the party requesting support. It also examines the opposing party’s ability to continue to pay.
  • The health of the parties – Health is important, not only the spouse requesting support but also the spouse giving it. The court will evaluate it.
  • Prior standard of living –The outcome of spousal support is to ensure that both marital parties maintain the same standard of living as while the couple was married.
  • Whether each party is responsible for the support of others –The court will consider each party’s responsibility to support others, such as dependents.
  • Contribution to the joint estate – The court will evaluate what party contributed to the marriage. This includes monetary contributions as well as things such as raising children.
  • How cohabitation affects a party’s financial status – The court will evaluate whether the parties live with someone else and its impact on their financial status.
  • General Principles of Equity – Courts can use the factors they wish to determine what amount of alimony is fair and how long it should last.

If spousal support is awarded, there are times when it can be adjusted in the future.

Below, we’ll discuss what that means for the parties involved.

Post Divorce Modification

In certain situations, spousal support can change. When this happens, it’s referred to as a post-decree modification. It exists to revise an existing final divorce decree to accurately reflect the lives and needs of those it represents, both adults and children. Some factors that indicate a change in circumstances, and therefore a difference in the spousal support order, are:

  • Remarriage
  • Cohabitation
  • Changes in need
  • Employment Changes rendering an inability to pay
  • Retirement
  • Death of the payer

If a post-decree modification is needed, McCririe Law’s experience in these types of legal processes will benefit you greatly. We are known as a premier law firm and are equipped to help you.

Types of Spousal Support Recognized by the State of Michigan:

Rehabilitative Spousal Support:

This type of temporary spousal support is generally short-term spousal support to help the dependent spouse transition to support themselves.

It can be appropriate advice to:

  • Encourage a spouse to seek employment to become self-sufficient.
  • Allow the disadvantaged spouse to complete further education or training to get back on their feet and gain financial independence.
  • Allow a spouse to adjust to financial lifestyle changes of one income.
  • Allow the spouse to get new job skills and enter the workspace.

Permanent Spousal Support

This is typically granted until remarriage or the death of the receiving party. These are factors in which permanent spousal support is appropriate:

  • Long-term marriage with a spouse with no career or equitable skills.
  • Long-term marriage, one spouse with superior spending skills, and the other with little earning capacity.
  • A vast imbalance between incomes and a spouse who had devoted much of their married life to a homemaker role.
  • Serious doubt a spouse can support themselves due to some disability.

As one can see reading through this blog, numerous factors are playing into spousal support. For that reason, you must retain an experienced law firm in divorce. Please contact McCririe Law at 810-229-6167 for further information and a free initial meeting.