Q: Can I get an alimony/spousal support modification in Michigan if I lose my job?
Alimony is a thorn in the side of many a divorced spouse who, despite making a clean physical break from their former love, is irked by the idea of paying ongoing court-ordered financial support to the now-ex. Not everyone feels that way, of course, but enough do that movie story lines commonly poke fun at the shady ways disgruntled people attempt to get out of alimony.
Alimony is a spousal support obligation; it's different from child support. It is the monetary allowance one spouse will be required to pay the other so that after the divorce that spouse can continue to live in the standard s /he was used to during the marriage. Alimony is not guaranteed in each divorce situation, but if it is granted, the court orders it. In addition, if granted, it can be to either spouse from the other, so husbands may pay wives or vice versa. At the time it is ordered and the amount is set, the court will examine the income and needs of the divorcing spouses.
What happens if the circumstances change dramatically thereafter? Can alimony be modified or reduced?
This happened recently to a husband who lost his job and sought a modification of his alimony obligations in light of the loss. His $108,000 job as a flooring salesman was eliminated in a company takeover through no fault of the husband. Within three months, he found and accepted another similar job, but only making $82,000—20% less than his prior salary. So he sought a court-ordered reduction in his alimony based on his new, lower salary.
The factors the court considered in reducing the alimony included:
- The reasons for the husband's loss of income;
- The husband's efforts to replace or find alternative employment;
- The husband's health and how it affects his ability to find a job; and
- Any severance award received from his previous employer.
The court granted his request and modified the alimony obligation based on the reduction in income. However, the court also built in safeguards for the wife including placing an obligation on the husband to notify her of any changes or increases in his income and to provide her with proof of his income each year.
If you're getting divorced or need to seek a modification in alimony or spousal support, call the Law Firm of Byers & Goulding at 248.608.4123 or contact us here. We assist clients throughout the Tri-County area of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties with Michigan spousal support decisions, issues and modification orders and family law matters .