When you are planning your future after a divorce, it’s essential to understand how spousal support can impact your finances. It’s difficult to make an accurate financial plan without knowing how long these payments last. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount and duration of spousal support payments vary significantly from case to case.
The Eastpointe, MI, alimony lawyers at Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC can clarify the divorce process for you and answer any questions about spousal support payments. Whether you expect to pay spousal support or want to ensure you receive a fair award, we can protect your rights and interests. Below we answer some common questions about spousal support payments and how long they last.
Which Spouse Pays Spousal Support After a Divorce?
Which spouse will pay spousal support, also called alimony, is a crucial question in any Michigan divorce. Typically, the spouse who earns a higher income and can afford to provide financial support pays alimony. There’s no legal requirement that a husband pays alimony to his wife after a divorce, particularly if the wife has a higher income. In some cases, spousal support is not required.
It’s important to understand that alimony isn’t a punitive measure. Instead, it’s a mechanism designed to balance the economic effects of a divorce and ensure that neither spouse is left in a financially disadvantaged position.
How Do the Courts Calculate Spousal Support Payments?
Unfortunately, state law has little to say about how the courts should calculate spousal support payments during divorce proceedings. The relevant statute in the Michigan Compiled Laws says judges may order one spouse to pay any amount “as shall be deemed proper and necessary.” While there is little guidance in state law for judges to consult, some common factors they use to calculate spousal support payments include:
- Length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s income and financial status
- Each spouse’s age and health
- The pre-divorce standard of living
- Each spouse’s ability to work
- Any degree of fault in the divorce (e.g., adultery)
- Amount and source of property awarded to each party
- Ability of the parties to pay alimony
- The needs of the parties
When Do Spousal Support Payments End?
In Michigan, the duration of spousal support is not set in stone and can vary depending on several factors. Typically, spousal support ends in one of these situations:
- After a set term: Sometimes, a judge will set a specific date at which alimony payments will end.
- Remarriage of the recipient spouse: Spousal support typically ends when the recipient spouse remarries, as the new marriage often changes the financial needs and circumstances of the receiving spouse.
- Change in financial circumstances of paying spouse: If the payer’s financial situation drastically changes, as with the loss of a job or a significant loss of income, they may petition the court to modify or end the spousal support.
- Either spouse passes away: Generally, spousal support ends if either the payer or the recipient spouse dies.
Do the Courts Ever Award Permanent Alimony?
Generally, courts only award permanent alimony in cases involving long-term marriages where one spouse cannot earn a living due to age, health conditions, or absence from the workforce for a significant period. However, it’s crucial to remember that “permanent” doesn’t necessarily mean “forever.” If there’s a substantial change in circumstances, such as the paying spouse retiring or the receiving spouse getting remarried, the court may modify or terminate the alimony.
Can You Ask the Courts to Modify Spousal Support Payments?
In Michigan, if either the paying or the receiving spouse undergoes a significant change in circumstances, they can petition the courts to modify the alimony order. Changes in circumstances can include the loss of a job, a substantial decrease or increase in income, serious illness, retirement, or the receiving spouse getting remarried or cohabitating with a new partner. However, it’s not as simple as just making a request. You’ll need to present clear and convincing evidence of the change in circumstances to the court.
If you have additional questions about spousal support or any other aspect of the Michigan divorce process, our Eastpointe spousal support attorneys can help. Call Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC today at (586) 776-1700 for a consultation, or you can complete our online contact form.