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Michigan Family Law Blog

Sunday, June 30, 2019

How Do I Modify My Spousal Support or Alimony?

​How Do I Modify My Spousal Support in Michigan? 

If you are paying modifiable alimony in Oakland, Michigan, you might have the ability to decrease or increase your income but you do not know if your case will qualify or how to go about getting it modified.  How do you know if you are paying or receiving modifiable support?  If your judgment of divorce or separation does not specifically state that is not modifiable and does not provide a waiver of your right to modifiable support, then you have modifiable support.

To start with you have to file what is called a "post-judgment" motion with the court.  At the first court date scheduled on the motion, the court will consider whether, assuming everything is true in your motion, there is a sufficient basis to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter.  This hearing (if granted) is typically scheduled one to two months after the initial hearing on the motion.  Sometimes parties will attempt to mediate the issue prior to the evidentiary hearing date.

What do you need to allege in order for the court to even consider granting the change in the support amount?  Case law regarding modifying the amount of alimony basically states that the main objective of alimony is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either party. Alimony is to be based on what is just and reasonable under the circumstances of the case. An alimony award can be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances. The modification of an alimony award must be based on new facts or changed circumstances arising since the judgment of divorce.

Some of the more common changes are an increase in the amount of income the recipient is making, a decrease in the income of the payer, remarriage, cohabitation, disability, incarceration or the passage of time.  In a recent Oakland County case, the judge denied the ex-husband's motion to modify alimony when he retired.  She did so on two erroneous bases: first, she found that the spousal support was non-modifiable and second, that the retirement was not a change in circumstances because the husband was contemplating retirement at the time of the divorce, even though there was no waiver of the right to modifiable support and there was no indication in the judgment that retirement would not be a change of circumstances.  Fortunately the ex-husband filed an appeal and the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge's decision.

Attempting to modify these provisions is very difficult.  If you are considering attempting to modify your spousal support payments, your ex is attempting to modify the spousal support, or have any other questions regarding a family law matter, Cameron C. Goulding Family Law and Mediation, P.L.C. can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.  From our offices in Rochester, Michigan, we are solely devoted to the practice of family law and help families throughout Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Livingston, Lapeer and Wayne counties navigate their way through the challenges of divorce.


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