Michigan spousal support, also called alimony, is the obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse after divorce. Spousal support is never guaranteed in Michigan.
If you have concerns about whether you may be required to pay alimony, or receive it, contact me to arrange a free initial consultation. As a critical part of my Family Law practice, I assist clients throughout the Tri-County area of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties with Michigan spousal support decisions, issues and modification orders.
Michigan Spousal Support (Alimony)
Generally, when both spouses are employed and self-sufficient, spousal support will not be awarded unless there is a considerable imbalance in their incomes. Unless a divorcing couple voluntarily agrees on spousal support, a judge will decide if spousal support is necessary according to alimony laws in Michigan.
When spousal support is ordered, it is usually granted for a specified time span. Rehabilitative spousal support is awarded at a fixed amount for a fixed period of time, with the intent of equalizing the financial burden of divorce, and to provide a disadvantaged spouse the opportunity to improve their financial independence through job education and training.
Typically, the longer the marriage has lasted, the longer the duration of the award. Spousal support that continues for the lifetime of the receiving spouse is called permanent alimony, which is rare but is awarded in deserving situations. A spousal support award can also be “open-ended,” meaning it may continue until the court orders otherwise.
Michigan spousal support should be fair and feasible. While keeping the recipient safe from impoverishment, it should not cause undue financial hardship to the payer. Spousal support is separate from the division of marital property and child support.
Michigan Spousal Support Modification
Spousal support awarded through a divorce trial is modifiable. If you are paying or receiving spousal support and have experienced a significant change in your circumstances, you can ask for a review and modification of the order.
If your economic situation has changed and you need to modify your spousal support payments, I will evaluate your situation and give a reliable answer about whether you qualify for a modification, and what you can expect the modified payments to be according to Michigan spousal support guidelines.
Most divorce cases are resolved without going to trial. Spousal support payments that couples agree to in a divorce settlement may by modifiable or non-modifiable. If you agree to non-modifiable spousal support, there can be no change to the spousal support award.
If your spousal support is modifiable and you wish to change the payments, you must be able to prove there has been a significant material change to your income over time. Monthly spousal support payments can be increased or decreased accordingly. A significant material change could include:
- Remarriage of the recipient
- New expenses on behalf of the child
- Job loss or a pay cut
- Illness or injury that prevents the spouse from earning a full salary, or creates high medical expenses
In order to modify the amount of spousal support you are paying or receiving, you will need to hire a family law attorney to obtain a modification to the support order.
Temporary Spousal Support
In certain cases, Michigan courts may authorize spousal support while the divorce case is pending. Temporary spousal support payments would be in effect during the time leading up to a hearing or trial. At the hearing or trial, the presiding family court judge hears evidence and ultimately determines the amount and duration of the "final support" order. Your lawyer must be prepared to deal with this matter at the start of the case given the length of time a "temporary support" order may last.
Spousal Support Enforcement
If you need legal advice concerning spousal support enforcement, consult an attorney at once. Refusal to meet the obligations of Michigan spousal support is a serious matter.
Methods of enforcing non-payment of spousal support include withholding income, liens, contempt penalties, revocation of drivers, business and professional licenses, and interception of tax refunds. Michigan courts also enforce other states' orders if the payer was personally served or present in that court.
Contact me with your Michigan spousal support questions, whether you believe that you have the right to receive payments or if you believe you need to dispute an obligation to pay. I am here to ensure your obligations, modification and needs are handled correctly.