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Michigan Family Law Blog

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Will I Have to Pay Alimony in a Divorce?

Will I Have to Pay Alimony in a Divorce?

Alimony is alive and well in Michigan but we call it spousal support.  Unlike child support, which is determined by a formula, spousal support is supposed to be determined by an examination of the following fourteen factors:

1. parties’ past relations and conduct
2. length of the marriage
3. parties’ ability to work
4. source and amount of property awarded to the parties
5. parties’ ages
6. ability to pay spousal support
7. parties’ present situation
8. parties’ needs
9. parties’ health
10. prior standard of living of the parties and whether the parties support others
11. parties’ contributions to the joint estate
12. a party’s fault in causing the divorce
13. how cohabitation affects a party’s financial status
14. general principles of equity

While the court is supposed to consider all of the factors when fashioning an award of alimony, the case law now allows judges to use a computer program that provides an estimate of what the support should be.  The programs tend to focus almost exclusively on the difference in income between the parties, the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, educational level or ability to earn income/pay support and whether one party stayed at home to care for children while the other party worked (if there were children in the marriage).   Depending on the judge, the judge may consider argument regarding the other factors to increase or decrease the amount or duration of support.

The other factors that are most often argued are a parties' health  and that is often taken into account by the court as well as mediators.  The issue of fault in causing the divorce is somewhat more murky and unless there is some serious form of abuse, repeated affairs or outlandish behavior, it may not have as much effect on an award of alimony.  The source and amount of property and contribution to the marital estate do not seem to be taken into account much in most cases and prior standard of living really only applies in cases where the people are very well off.

So in very simply terms if you make more money than your spouse, you have been married for more than five (5) years, you are not over the age of sixty (60) and you do not have severe health problems that a doctor would say precludes you from working, then you have a potential alimony issue in divorce.  This is however a very complicated area of the law and you should consult an attorney regarding the specifics of your case.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at (248) 609-4123 or goulding@camerongoulding.com to schedule an appointment.



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