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Michigan Family Law Blog

What Can I Do About My Spouse's Spending?

Posted by Cameron Goulding | May 12, 2021

This blog is dedicated to family law and divorce cases.  There are many issues that can lead to a divorce, one very common issue is family finance.  There are many aspects of family money management that can lead to serious problems and differences for married couples and frankly any couple in reality.  One such problem is the issue of spending.

Often one spouse is much more conservative about saving money and budgeting than the other spouse.  This can lead to resentment on behalf of both spouses.  Counseling and attempting to come to some resolutions is always the best way to attempt to handle these issues, however sometimes they cannot be overcome and this leads to a divorce.

What Can I Do About My Spouse's Spending During the Divorce?

When a person files for divorce, the court takes jurisdiction over all aspects of that family, including the finances and savings of the parties.  Divorce is a slow process and during that time the parties are typically required to maintain some form of financial status quo and continuing to pay bills as they did before anyone filed for divorce.  A problem arises when one of the parties continues to spend beyond the means of the parties or even worse, a party goes on a spending spree after the divorce is initiated.

The parties can try to talk and come to some agreements on how to proceed at this point.  If the parties are able to come to an agreement as to how to budget their funds during the divorce, then it is wise to put that in writing and have the judge sign it so that it becomes an order of the court.  However, if the parties were not able to come to an agreement regarding budgeting while they were married and ostensibly getting along, this is often futile.

Should I File a Motion to Stop the Spending?

While the divorce case is going on, either party can file a written motion explaining to the judge the situation and then requesting that the judge take certain action.  In the case where one party is spending out of control or beyond the budget of the parties' monthly family income, the court will entertain motions to limit the spending while the case is proceeding.  It is best to provide the judge with a detailed explanation of the parties' net monthly income and their set expenses, such as the mortgage, car payments, insurance, utilities, phone, groceries and other recurring monthly expenses.  This will allow the judge to determine what discretionary income (the amount each party should be able to spend each month on themselves above and beyond the set expenses) is available to the parties.  It is also a very good idea to explain the personal expenses that each party has to the judge so that you can then ask the judge for more of the discretionary income based upon the past practices of the parties. 

Once the judge has this information, she or he will issue an order detailing what monthly expenses will get paid first and then how much money each party is allowed to spend on themselves each month.  If either party violates this order then the other party can take him or her back to court and ask the judge to hold that person in contempt.  Contempt sanctions range from a warning, to attorney fees, fines, awarding a greater part of the marital estate or jail. 

With skillful advocacy it is possible to limit the other parties' spending during the divorce.  To learn more about the divorce process or for legal advice about ending your marriage in Michigan, contact our firm today.

About the Author

Cameron Goulding

A native of Oakland County, Michigan, family lawyer Cameron C. Goulding has been providing counseling and legal services of the highest caliber to individuals and families in Southeastern Michigan for over 24 years. Mr. Goulding grew up in Oakland County, Michigan and graduated from Birmingham G...

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