Michigan Spousal Support

Alimony has been replaced by the phrase spousal support. There are certain factors that need to be examined in determining if a case is of such a nature that spousal support should be awarded. The factors are as follows: 1) Past relations and conduct of the parties 2) Length of the marriage 3) Parties ability to work 4) Source and amount of property 5) Ability to pay spousal support 6) parties present situation 7) parties needs 8) parties health 9) prior standard of living 10) General principles of equity. Additionally, one needs to remember that unless otherwise agreed that spousal support is always modifiable. There is a case named Staples v Staples which allows parties to a divorce action to agree that spousal support is non-modifiable.

It is imperative that a lot of thought be given as to how to handle a spousal support claim. My thought on this issue is that the most important factors are the disparity in income between the parties, the length of the marriage, and the health of the parties.  The issue of modifiable vs non-modifiable is also very important. Usually the party paying the support wants to cap how long the support will be paid. On the other hand if one makes support non-modifiable and then loses their job support can be impossible to pay and under this scenario the court cannot give any relief.

Another extremely important factor in deciding the terms of settlement has to do with the prospects for collecting the support and  determining actual income. The example I use is the difference between collecting from someone who has one job and cannot understate their income and someone who is self employed and can resort to funny business on their tax returns. If the prospects for collecting and receiving spousal support look difficult than sometimes it is wise to attempt to negotiate a settlement with a smaller amount of non-modifiable spousal support that is tied to a settlement whereby their is a larger portion of the property being awarded in lieu of some of the support. I have had clients hell bent on attempting to seek long term support against someone that understated their income during the marriage and that same person can be expected to understate their income after the divorce. On the hand if the payer has a secure job with verifiable income and/or an  expectation of  increased income than the payment of  spousal support is much more secure and there are not nearly as many worries about payment.

If you need help in  analyzing spousal support issues on a case which you are involved send me an email at john@bainlaw.org or call me on my cell phone 248.672.6112.