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How Is Spousal Support Determined in Michigan?

How Is Spousal Support Determined in Michigan?

When a divorce in Michigan concludes, the court’s orders regarding property division, child support, and child custody should leave each party in a roughly equitable position. One key order involved in a divorce that is meant to help ensure this balance is achieved is spousal support.

What Is Spousal Support? 

One party in a divorce may have significantly greater earning power and potential than the other. As a result, the other spouse may face a dramatic decrease in their standard of living following the divorce or may not have the means to support themselves because they passed on career opportunities while married to aid their partner’s career.

It is in these situations that the court may consider entering an order of spousal support. Sometimes called alimony, a spousal support order directs one spouse to pay a certain sum of money to the other for a period of time to assist the other spouse in meeting their needs and maintaining a certain standard of living.

Unlike child support, the conditions for granting and method for calculating spousal support are much more flexible.

Determining Spousal Support in Michigan Divorces

Parents have a legal obligation to support their children, and for this reason, a non-custodial parent will almost always be ordered to pay some amount of child support. There is no corresponding legal obligation to support one’s former spouse, however, so a court does not need to order spousal support in every case.

Instead, Michigan courts will consider whether there is a need from one spouse for support and whether the other spouse has the means to provide for that need. In considering this need, the court will first look at that party’s:

  • Financial resources, including the marital property awarded to them
  • Skills, education, and past employment experience
  • Standard of living during the marriage and its reasonableness
  • Sacrifices or opportunities deferred to support the marriage
  • Ability to obtain employment and become self-sufficient

These are only some of the factors a court considers to determine whether spousal support is necessary.

In considering whether the other spouse has the means to support the other through an alimony award, the court will examine this spouse’s:

  • Financial resources and share of the marital estate
  • Contributions to the marriage and responsibility for bills during the marriage
  • Reasonable future earning potential
  • Benefits received from the other spouse, such as through child-rearing or domestic support

Just as the amount of spousal support is flexible and determined by the court, so too is the duration of the support. It should only last as long as is necessary to allow the other spouse time to become self-sufficient and independent.

Spousal support terminates either when the court orders it to end or when the recipient spouse remarries or passes away.

Contact a Skilled Michigan Spousal Support Lawyer for Help

Spousal support can be a complex issue in Michigan divorces. An experienced Michigan divorce lawyer can examine the details of your case to determine whether spousal support is necessary and fight to protect your best interests in the process.

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