Rochester Hills Spousal Support Attorneys
Four Types of Spousal Support
Spousal support (alimony) is a payment from one ex-spouse to the other during or after a divorce meant to ensure that each spouse can meet financial needs during and after the separation process. Michigan permits spouses to request spousal support if the requesting spouse can demonstrate a financial need and the other spouse can afford to pay. The amount, frequency, and duration of support will depend on the individual case.
In general, Michigan offers four types of spousal support:
- Temporary - Temporary support is only available during the pendency of the divorce and is for spouses who are unable to support themselves during the divorce process. Either spouse can request temporary support when filing for divorce, but the court will make the final decision as to who can appropriately receive the support. Note that some courts may refer to temporary support as “status quo” payments, as the spouse who has always paid the mortgage, utility bills, and car payments may be ordered to continue making those payments while the divorce process is ongoing. Status quo payments are usually ordered when there is a significant discrepancy in income between both parties.
- Periodic - Periodic support is the most common type of support in Michigan, and a judge can award periodic support for a short period (considered rehabilitative support) or for a longer period of time. Periodic support is common in situations where one spouse is capable of being self-supporting, though not immediately. For example, if one spouse gave up a career to raise a family or support the other’s career, the court may award periodic spousal support for a period that allows the recipient time to develop job skills or finish a degree that will help them become financially independent.
- Permanent - While temporary and periodic support have a termination date, permanent support is alimony that lasts indefinitely. Permanent support is not often granted and is reserved for cases where the parties were married for an extended period, and the recipient spouse is unable to become financially independent due to age, health, or disability.
- Lump-Sum - Lastly, lump-sum support is spousal support paid all at once and, although rare, is appropriate when one spouse can afford to pay the entire support award in one payment. It is common for lump-sum payments to be personal or real property instead of money. The benefit of lump-sum support is that the paying spouse has no obligation to make bi-weekly, monthly, or annual payments to an ex-spouse, but the downside is that the paying spouse will need to provide a significant value of property or a lump-sum monetary amount up-front in the negotiations.
Who Gets Spousal Support?
In Michigan, either spouse can ask for spousal support in a divorce, though note that for the court to consider a request for support, individuals must address it in their initial divorce paperwork. It is a common misconception that spouses must be married for at least 10 years before the court will award support, though a court may actually award alimony to a qualifying party regardless of how long a couple has been married. Of course, it is more likely for a judge to award support for a long-term marriage, but it is not a requirement.
Unlike child support calculations in Michigan, there is no set formula that a judge must use to calculate the amount and duration of spousal support.
Judges will, however, examine various factors in addition to the length of the marriage to determine whether to award alimony and how much:
- the parties’ past relations and conduct;
- each spouse’s ability to work;
- the source and amount of property awarded to the parties in the divorce;
- the age and health of each party;
- the financial situation of each party;
- the needs of each spouse;
- the prior standard of living of the parties and whether the parties support other dependents;
- each parties’ contribution to the marital estate;
- whether a spouse’s conduct caused the divorce;
- how cohabitation affects a party’s financial status; and
- any other general principles of equity.
The amount of alimony depends significantly on both spouse's incomes, and the court will try to award an amount sufficient to allow the receiving spouse to maintain a home and a reasonable standard of living. It may also include an award of attorney fees already paid by the receiving spouse.
Note that in the case of modifications to an existing order, courts understand that circumstances change, so if a spouse can prove a significant change in circumstances since the last order, they may ask the court to modify their current order.
A change in circumstances warranting modification may include:
- the recipient spouse cohabiting with a new partner;
- fraud and unilateral mistake;
- a change in need of the parties; or
- a difference in the payer’s ability to pay.
The obligation to pay alimony ends when either party dies or when the person receiving alimony remarries (unless they’ve agreed to other terms in the divorce agreement).
Let Little & Boylan PLLC Help
If you are seeking to request alimony while filing for divorce or after divorce, it is best to consult an experience lawyer for more information. Our team at Little & Boylan PLLC can examine your situation and help you determine your spousal support eligibility in Michigan, as well as how you might negotiate a longer-term order or modify the amount.
At Little & Boylan PLLC, we follow a winning formula to develop effective strategies to achieve our clients’ goals as best we can. We take a smart and advanced approach to planning out every case before going into the negotiations room or courtroom, and we bring a fight every time. Whether you seek to negotiate for spousal support following a divorce or modify an existing order, our lawyers at Little & Boylan PLLC can represent your case for alimony.