How Is Alimony Calculated In Michigan?

If you have been considering filing for divorce, or your spouse already has, you may be concerned about having to pay alimony. Learn how Michigan calculates spousal support payments.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support (or alimony) is a payment from one ex-spouse to another. The goal of alimony is to ensure that both spouses are able to meet financial obligations. For example, if one spouse was the breadwinner in a marriage, the other spouse could be left with unfair economic circumstances.

Alimony in Michigan can take many different forms. The old lines in songs and movies about “the wife taking half” do not accurately reflect the state of spousal support in Michigan. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions about these payments is that men are always ordered to pay them.

Types of Alimony in Michigan

Michigan allows for four different types of spousal support. The type of alimony you receive or your ex-spouse is ordered to pay depends upon the need of the receiving spouse and the ability to pay of the other spouse.

In a situation where one spouse cannot support themselves while a divorce is pending, the court can order Temporary Spousal Support. Either party can request this type of support, however, the court will only order it if deemed necessary. This type of support can also be referred to as “status quo” support. For example, if your spouse has always paid the housing and utility bills on your residence, then they would maintain those payments.

Also, if there is a significant discrepancy in income between the spouses, a judge may order status quo plus an additional amount.

The most common form of alimony in Michigan is Periodic Spousal Support. This is a flexible option for a judge, and can be ordered for a short or long amount of time. This is common when a judge deems a spouse to be able to become self-supporting, but not immediately. For example, if one spouse stopped working to care for the children full-time, then that spouse might receive short-term (or rehabilitative) support until they have obtained gainful employment.

One type of alimony that is becoming less common is Permanent Spousal Support. The cases where this may be ordered tend to be when one spouse is deemed unable to support themselves, perhaps due to age, health, or disability. If an elderly couple were to file for divorce, this may be the arrangement that is ordered.

One of the most uncommon forms of alimony is the Lump Sum Spousal Support option. This is usually ordered in the form of property (such as a house). A judge would normally only order this if the spouse ordered to pay can afford this type of arrangement. The benefit to this is there are no weekly or bi-weekly obligations to meet.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support in Michigan?

Either party in a divorce can make a request for spousal support. The important thing to note is that the request must be made in the initial filing. For the filing spouse, you’ll have to tell the court you need financial support in your petition for divorce. For the respondent (or defendant), it’s essential for you to file an answer to the complaint for divorce and your spouse’s request for alimony.

Factors The Court Considers

Unlike child support, there is no set spousal support formula. Judges will take a number of factors into consideration when determining alimony, including:

The past relationship & conduct of both parties
Each spouse’s ability to work
The amount of property awarded in the divorce
The age and health of both parties
The financial situation of both spouses & their needs
Prior standard of living & support of dependents
What did each spouse contribute to their common estate
Whether a spouse’s conduct caused the divorce (ie. infidelity)
How cohabitation affects a spouse’s finances (did one spouse move in with a family member or significant other)
Other general principles of equity.
One of the most important factors in determining alimony is the income of both parties. A judge will not want to put undue burden on either party during a divorce.

When you’re considering a divorce, the idea of alimony may be at the forefront of your mind. Contact The Mitten Law Firm today to speak confidentially with an expert to determine what your best course of action is.