Few elements of a divorce generate the same intense feelings as the subject of alimony. Many spouses resent having to financially support their former partner after a divorce and will do everything possible to keep payments to a minimum. Accordingly, getting a fair alimony award often requires the help of a knowledgeable and capable attorney.
At Mihelich & Kavanaugh, our Shelby, MI, alimony lawyers know how draining a divorce can be and want to take on the burden of the whole process for you. Our team thoroughly understands Michigan’s alimony laws and will fight aggressively to protect your rights. Below we explain more about how alimony works in Michigan and how an attorney can help you win a fair spousal support award.
Which Spouse Pays Alimony in Michigan?
Alimony is not granted in every Michigan divorce. Instead, the courts make their decisions on a case-by-case basis and consider multiple factors. In other words, there’s no legal requirement that one spouse must pay alimony to the other after they divorce.
Typically, the spouse with the higher income is the one who pays alimony. This system helps maintain the financial status quo established during the marriage and ensures that the spouse with fewer resources isn’t left at a severe economic disadvantage post-divorce.
What Factors Do Courts Consider When Determining Alimony?
The relevant statute in the Michigan Compiled Laws says judges may award alimony in a divorce to “suitably maintain” that spouse. This gives judges broad authority when determining which spouse will receive alimony and, if so, how much they’ll get. Some of the factors judges consider when determining who pays and how much alimony should be paid include:
- Length of the Marriage: Longer marriages often result in higher alimony payments, acknowledging each spouse’s contribution to the couple’s shared resources and lifestyle.
- Ability to Pay: The court will assess the income and resources of the spouse expected to pay alimony, ensuring that the payments won’t lead to financial hardship.
- Need of the Recipient: The financial needs of the spouse seeking alimony, their standard of living during the marriage, and their ability to support themselves post-divorce are major factors in alimony decisions.
- Earning Capacities: The court will consider the health, age, education, skills, and work experience of each spouse, as well as the time needed for the receiving spouse to acquire education or training for job placement.
- Conduct and Fault: Although Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the court may consider any fault that led to the breakdown of the marriage, like infidelity or abuse, when determining alimony.
- Standard of Living: The lifestyle established during the marriage is a significant factor in alimony awards, with the goal of maintaining a similar standard for both parties after the divorce.
When Does Alimony End in Michigan?
It is possible to terminate or modify alimony payments in Michigan under certain conditions. Payments may cease if the recipient spouse remarries or if a termination date was specified in the divorce decree. Significant changes in the recipient’s financial situation, like a new job or an inheritance, could justify revisiting alimony terms.
The court can also evaluate the recipient’s ability to work, potentially discontinuing payments if they can earn a living. However, to modify or terminate alimony, you must formally petition the court and provide a valid reason for the change.
Call a Michigan Family Law Attorney Today
Determining alimony in Shelby, MI, can be complex and fraught with implications that ripple through your life. Enlisting an experienced family law attorney can help ensure your interests are effectively represented. They can work to get you the money you deserve, whether through a divorce agreement reached in mediation or in court. Call Mihelich & Kavanaugh today at (586) 776-1700 for a consultation, or you can complete our online form.