Alimony (Spousal Support)

How alimony works in the State of Michigan

“The main objective of alimony is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either party. Alimony is to be based on what is just and reasonable under the circumstances of the case.” Moore v. Moore 245 Mich.App. 652, 654, 619 N.W.2d 723 (2000).

Michigan law requires that the following factors to be considered by the Court when determining when alimony is to be awarded, for how long and in what amount: (1) the past relations and conduct of the parties, (2) the length of the marriage, (3) the abilities of the parties to work, (4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties, (5) the parties’ ages, (6) the abilities of the parties to pay alimony, (7) the present situation of the parties, (8) the needs of the parties, (9) the parties’ health, (10) the prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others, (11) contributions of the parties to the joint estate, (12) a party’s fault in causing the divorce, (13) the effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status, and (14) general principles of equity. Ianitelli v. Ianitelli, 199 Mich.App. 641, 644, 502 N.W.2d 691 (1993); Thames v. Thames, 191 Mich.App. 299, 308, 477 N.W.2d 496 (1991). ” Olson v. Olson, 256 Mich.App. 619, 631, 671 N.W.2d 64 (2003).

Most courts will put specific emphasis on the length of marriage and how large the differential in income between the parties is. Next, courts will look to the parties’ ability to work, or rejoin the work force, and any medical considerations. If the marriage has lasted more than ten years and one spouse makes more than double the other, expect some type of alimony award.

Our judges view the responsibility to pay support to one’s spouse second only to a parent’s responsibility to pay support for their child. Alimony takes precedence over the mortgage, taxes and other loans and debts.

Another issue that needs to be considered is whether or not the alimony is permanent or modifiable. Some clients prefer knowing exactly what they will have to pay and for how long. Other clients want to maintain flexibility if circumstances change with their employment or health.  If the court is forced to decide, the issue of alimony will remain open and modifiable at anytime upon a change in circumstances. While there is a benefit to this, it can lead to endless litigation.

Like many other issues in the family law process, each judge handles the issue of alimony differently. These are fact specific determinations. Our firm has argued many alimony cases with all of our judges and knows how to develop arguments and position issues so that you are in the best position possible to achieve your financial objectives.