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Michigan Family Law Blog

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Alimony in Gross Vs. Periodic alimony in Michigan

This blog is about alimony.  In Michigan, we call it spousal support but it is the same thing.  There are different types of alimony that one might pursue in a divorce.  A Michigan divorce attorney can analysis the facts and apply the law to your case to determine whether you might be a good candidate for alimony or whether you have a potential liability regarding this difficult issue.

Alimony in Gross Vs. Periodic Alimony

As stated above, many factors affect in each case may justify awarding spousal support in it's various forms. The object of alimony according to Michigan case law, is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either party. The trial court may award either periodic alimony or alimony in gross.  Periodic alimony is the classic type of alimony most people think of when considering the subject.  The payments are made on an ongoing monthly basis and can terminate upon some contingency, such as death or remarriage of a spouse.  Alimony in gross is paid as a lump sum or a definite sum to be paid in installments.  One major difference between the two types of alimony is modifiability. Spousal support in gross is nonmodifiable, whereas periodic spousal support is subject to modification

It is imperative that the attorney, when drafting a Judgment of Divorce based upon a settlement agreement, or the judge if there has been a trial, to be very clear and explicit about what type of alimony is being granted in the case.  In a recent case out of Lapeer County, Labrie v Labrie, Michigan Court of Appeals Docket No 3444339 (June 25, 2019), the appellate court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, in part due to this problem.  In doing so, the Michigan Court of Appeals stated: "It is apparent that the trial court misstated the spousal support award and miscomprehended the characteristics of each type of spousal support. For instance, the use of the term “modifiable” in the judgment of divorce, in reference to a lump sum payment, complicates whether the spousal support award was intended to be periodic or in gross. If the spousal support award was intended to be spousal support in gross, it cannot also be modifiable, given that one of the hallmarks of spousal support in gross is the fact that such awards are nonmodifiable. 

Call a Michigan Divorce Attorney to Help You

Alimony and the different types of spousal support is such a complicated issue that even judge's get it wrong.  This shows why it is so important to have a divorce attorney attorney, also known as a family law attorney, help guide you through the process in a thoughtful and deliberate way.  Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding to discuss your options. 

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