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Michigan Family Law Blog

Friday, December 6, 2019

Can A Judge Reinstate Alimony?

Q: After Alimony Has Ended, Can A Judge Reinstate It?

If you’re considering getting divorced in Michigan, then you most likely understand that you will have to divide your property and debts as part of the process.  In addition, depending on the facts of your specific case, alimony, or spousal support as it is called in Michigan, may be an issue.  Alimony is probably the most contentious issue that the parties may have to confront in resolving the divorce. 

What does the Michigan family court consider? 

Spousal support is intended to balance the parties' incomes and needs so that neither party will be impoverished, and spousal support must be based on what is just and reasonable.  The court should consider the following "spousal support factors" when fashioning an alimony award: (1) the past relations and conduct of the parties; (2) the length of the marriage; (3) the abilities of the parties to work; (4) the source and the amount of property awarded to the parties; (5) the parties' ages; (6) the abilities of the parties to pay support; (7) the present situation of the parties; (8) the needs of the parties; (9) the parties' health; (10) the parties' prior standard of living and whether either is responsible for the support of others; (11) the contributions of the parties to the joint estate; (12) a party's fault in causing the divorce; (13) the effect of cohabitation on a party's financial status; and (14) general principles of equity. 

If a court awards spousal support, then it will be considered modifiable.  The biggest problem with modifiable alimony is how each individual court or judge interprets the meaning of "modifiable".  In the recent case, Calco v Calco, Michigan Court of Appeals, Unpublished Case No. 344932 (October 24, 2019), the court originally ordered "rehabilitative" alimony to the wife for a period of approximately four (4) years.  At some point after the divorce, the parties basically began to cohabit in the marital home.  The husband maintained a separate apartment but spent a significant amount of time at the marital home and he continued to pay for most of the expenses for the parties even after the four (4) years of alimony expired.  Inevitably, this eventually ended and ten (10) years after the divorce, the wife petitioned the court to reinstate the alimony and the court (I assume this was a different judge than the one that handled the original divorce) reinstated alimony.  The husband appealed and the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the decision basically finding that it was not a just and reasonable decision that the trial court made. 

Contact Cameron C. Goulding Family Law and Mediation, PLC Today

Obviously alimony is an area of family law that is filled with potential pitfalls.  If you have questions regarding spousal support, or any other family law matter, Cameron C. Goulding Family Law and Mediation, P.L.C. can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

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