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Decades ago, when most women did not work outside the home, Michigan Courts routinely awarded alimony to be paid by the husband to the wife. Now, since many families have duel income earners, including the wife, Michigan Courts tend to focus their analysis upon "rehabilitative alimony" which is an attempt to restore the spouse that has insufficient income to a financial status to allow a reasonable transition for both households.
Alimony, more commonly known as "spousal support" remains alive and well in Michigan, and the Court is granted statutory authority to award spousal support that is just and reasonable after consideration of "the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case." MCL 552.23(1).
Often, if is still generally more common for the Court to order a husband to pay spousal support to the wife; however, spousal support is gender neutral, and either party may be ordered to pay alimony for suitable support for the other party who may have insufficient income for their financial needs. This analysis is typically completed after the analysis of any court ordered child support.
If the parties willingly agree upon an amount of Spousal Support, the Court will approve the arrangement. But - since Spousal Support is not "automatic" in Michigan - when Spousal Support can not be agreed upon, the party who seeks it must skillfully petition the Court to award it.
In determining if Spousal Support is to be awarded, the Court will look at a number of complex (and often very subjective) factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The parties' contributions to the marriage;
- The parties' ability to work;*
- The spouse's ability to pay;
- The parties' ages;
- The parties' health or disabilities;
- The parties' station in life or style of living;
- The party's necessities and circumstances; and,
- The parties' respective earning abilities.
* NOTE: When determining a spouse's "ability to work" the court will also consider the following sources of income: earnings, unemployment benefits, severance packages, disability, and the unexercised ability to earn if income is voluntarily reduced to avoid paying support based upon an analysis of past employment history, reasons for job termination, and legally provable available work opportunities and due diligence in trying to find employment.
In determining Spousal Support, the Court will also consider:
(1.)The past relations and conduct of the parties. How the parties conducted themselves during their marriage as well as fault in the breakdown of the marriage is a consideration by the Court. Fault is only one factor and will not be assigned disproportionate weight, including legally provable factors contributing to the divorce such as infidelity, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, financial dissipation of assets.
(2.)The present situation of the parties.The Court shall consider the property award granted to both parties and whether it will be sufficient for their respective needs.
General principles of equity are weighed, including whether either party is responsible for the support of others.
Michigan is a "No Fault" divorce state, which means that "fault" (such as
infidelity) is not considered in granting the divorce. But, "fault" (such as the parties' behaviors contributing to the divorce, including infidelity)
may be taken into consideration by the Judge in determining Spousal Support.
Because the Court relies on a complicated and often subjective set of factors in determining if Spousal Support will be awarded, it is essential to hire an aggressive and experienced divorce attorney to fight for your rights, so you obtain the Spousal Support arrangement that you deserve.
An experienced lawyer can look at all of the factors that apply to your situation and effectively present a strong legal case for
or against Spousal Support to the Court. But, since there is no longer liberal "alimony", without a skilled lawyer who understands support law, it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain the results you desire.
We have successfully obtained Spousal Support results for our clients in literally hundreds of divorce cases. Call us today, and we will use our years of experience and our extensive legal knowledge to fight for you.
Experienced family law
attorney Starla Zehr has successfully represented hundreds of individuals with
alimony issues. She will offer you compassionate advice and aggressive representation at affordable rates, to
ensure that your rights are always protected.
Call Starla Zehr today for your confidential consultation.