Going through a divorce and restarting life on a solo path are monumental tasks wherever you’re located. In Michigan, an equitable distribution state, many factors are weighed independently as to property division and whether spousal support (alimony) will be awarded.
Spousal support, unlike child support, is not a given in Michigan. There’s no statutory list of factors a judge must review, nor any alimony calculation formula to predict an outcome. It’s decided on a case-by-case basis. If the divorcing parties do not come to an agreement themselves or through mediation during the property division process, the matter will be decided at the judge’s discretion.
Usually rehabilitative and for a set term, spousal support is meant to remedy the payee spouse’s disadvantages as they transition to self-sufficiency. The judge will look at:
- Duration of the marriage
- Age of both parties
- Physical and mental health of both parties
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Ability to work and earning potential of either party
- Child custody arrangements
- Whether one spouse raised the children while the other spouse worked
- Whether one spouse supported the other while the other attained an advanced degree or training
- Conduct of both parties during the marriage. Although Michigan is a no-fault state for getting a divorce, if fault is found in the breakdown of the marriage, the alimony award may be adjusted up or down accordingly.
Once decided, a spousal award is binding. If the supporting spouse doesn’t pay (“alimony arrears”), legal remedies are available. These include mediation, small claims court, wage garnishment or a contempt of court charge.
If you seek spousal support or the other spouse is trying to get you to pay, a skilled counsel may be valuable. Divorce in Michigan is a nuanced and complex process best navigated with effective legal representation.