Alimony & Spousal Support in Macomb County Divorces
Several years ago – when women typically did not work outside of the home – Michigan Courts regularly awarded “alimony” to be paid by the husband to the wife. But today’s laws have changed to reflect the fact that in most families both spouses are (or have the ability to be) income earners.
Today, “alimony” is legally called “spousal support.” And it is never simple “automatically” awarded. If the two spouses agree upon an amount of Spousal Support, the Court will approve the arrangement. But when Spousal Support is not agreed upon by the divorcing spouses, the party who is seeking spousal support must skillfully convince the Judge to award it.
Spousal Support can be ordered by the judge to be paid by the husband to the wife OR to be paid by the wife to the husband.
Judges have the authority to award spousal support that is “just and reasonable”. In determining if Spousal Support is to be awarded, the Court will look at a number of complex (and often very subjective) factors.
Factors the Michigan Courts looks at in Awarding Spousal Support (Alimony):
- The length of the marriage;
- The parties’ contributions to the marriage;
- The parties’ ability to work;
- Each spouse’s ability to pay;
- The parties’ ages;
- The parties’ health or disabilities;
- The parties’ station in life or style of living;
- Each spouse’s necessities and circumstances; and,
- The parties’ respective earning abilities.
When determining the paying spouse’s “ability to pay” and the collecting spouse’s “ability to work”,
the court will also consider the following sources of income:
- Earnings and wages
- Unemployment benefits,
- Severance packages or Retirement or Pension Income,
- Disability benefits, (including Social Security or Workers Compensation),
- Unexercised ability to earn (intentionally not working to affect alimony)
- Past employment history
- Diligence in trying to find employment, if unemployed
In determining Spousal Support, the judge is also allowed to consider:
- How the parties conducted themselves during their marriage.
- Fault (if any) in the breakdown of the marriage (including: provable factors contributing to the divorce such as infidelity, domestic violence, drug usage, alcohol abuse, gambling, financial waste of assets, etc.).
- The other property awarded to both parties – and whether it will be sufficient for their respective needs.
- If either party is responsible for the support and/or care for others (such as minor or disabled children).
As you can, see this gives the judge wide discretion to award – or not award – alimony (spousal support). So the assistance of an experienced lawyer is essential to making the “best case” in an alimony situation.
How Long Can I Get Alimony or Spousal Support?
Michigan judges – including Macomb County judges – tend to favor what is called “rehabilitative alimony”. This means alimony is usually ordered only when it is determined that one spouse has insufficient income – and alimony is necessary to restore them to a financial status that allows them to “reasonably transition” to better financial position.
For this reason, Spousal Support is often ordered only on a temporary – or short term – basis. In other words, alimony frequently may be ordered long enough for a spouse without income to go back to school, finish raising minor children, or find a job.
Of course, there are special circumstances under which alimony (spousal support) will be ordered on a long term basis. If a spouse is disabled (or elderly) and unable to work, they are a more favorable candidate for being awarded spousal support. Similarly, if a spouse “gave up” their career or education to take care of minor or disabled children, they may also be more favorably considered to receive child support.
And, of course, in the case of high net worth (affluent) individuals the issue of Spousal Support is almost always “on the table” – as both spouses may be accustomed to a more lavish lifestyle, and there is plenty of money to go around!
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Alimony or Spousal Support?
Because the Court relies on very subjective – and often complex – information in determining if Spousal Support will be awarded, it is essential to hire an experienced, aggressive divorce lawyer to fight for your rights, so you obtain the Spousal Support arrangement that you deserve.
An experienced lawyer will sort out all of the factors that a judge is likely to apply to your situation, and can present the best case to the judge. Without a skilled lawyer who understands spousal support law, it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain the results you desire.
Our Macomb County Divorce Lawyers Can Help
Experienced family law lawyer Justin Vande Vrede has successfully represented hundreds of individuals with spousal support (alimony) issues. He will offer you caring, knowledgeable advice & provide skilled and aggressive representation at affordable rates, to ensure that your rights are always protected.