Michigan Spousal Support (Alimony)

It is often said that “two can live as cheaply as one”—but what happens when those two are no longer living under the same roof? If you are facing divorce in Michigan, you may be worried about your finances during and after the divorce. If you have been financially dependent on your spouse during your marriage, you may be wondering if you can make it without their support. If you have been the primary or sole earner during your marriage, you may be concerned that you will not have enough to live on if you need to pay your spouse alimony (called “spousal support” in Michigan).

These are reasonable concerns, and it may help you feel better to have some information about how Michigan spousal support works.

Understanding Michigan Spousal Support Law

We see a lot of confusion around the issue of alimony. Spousal support laws can vary greatly from state to state, and people often misunderstand how spousal support is determined in Michigan. In Michigan, spousal support may be awarded to either spouse if the marital property they receive in the divorce is not sufficient for their “suitable support and maintenance” and that of any children in their care. Unlike some states, in Michigan there is no minimum amount of time a couple needs to have been married in order for spousal support to be awarded.

While child support in Michigan is based on a formula, there is no such formula for determining spousal support. Instead, the court will weigh several factors set forth in Michigan law:

  • The past relations and conduct of the parties;
  • How long the parties were married;
  • The ability of each spouse to work and their earning capacity;
  • The source and amount of property awarded to each spouse in property division;
  • The ability of the paying spouse to pay spousal support;
  • Whether the spouse requesting alimony is responsible for supporting others, including adult children with special needs:
  • The parties’ present situation;
  • The difference in the parties’ incomes;
  • The standard of living established during the parties’ marriage;
  • The age, health, and needs of both parties;
  • Fault on the part of either party;
  • General principles of equity or fairness.

Even though Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that it is not necessary to prove fault to get a divorce, note that courts can consider whether either party was at fault when determining an award of spousal support.

Spousal support can be awarded as a lump sum or as periodic payments. It may be for a limited time or on a long-term or permanent basis. You and your spouse may reach an agreement about spousal support, including when it will terminate or whether it can be modified.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the issue of alimony, the court will need to make a decision. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can make a big difference in the outcome. An attorney who knows Michigan spousal support law and is familiar with the local courts will present the most relevant evidence and strengthen your position.

Experienced Macomb County Spousal Support Attorney

Whether you need someone to help you negotiate the most favorable terms for your spousal support agreement or represent your interests in court, attorney Paul Kowal will advocate effectively for you. With over thirty years of experience in Michigan family law, he will help you understand the implications of your spousal support award, including how recent changes in tax law may affect it.

Paul Kowal represents clients in Macomb and Oakland Counties in Michigan spousal support matters including spousal support during and after divorce as well as modification and termination of spousal support. We invite you to contact Paul S. Kowal, P.C. with any questions you may have about Michigan divorce or spousal support.

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