What If I Can’t Pay My Alimony in Michigan?

Alimony, or spousal support in Michigan, can be requested by either spouse in a divorce. Spousal support is a payment from one ex-spouse to the other during or after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that each spouse can meet financial needs during and after the divorce process.

What happens if you can’t afford to pay alimony anymore? Changes in your work, new financial obligations, or even a health crisis can make paying your spousal support seem impossible. Remember that alimony is always modifiable, unless in your divorce judgment, you and your ex-spouse agreed that it could NOT be modified.

Courts understand that circumstances change, so if you can prove a significant change of circumstances since the last order, you may ask the court to modify your current order. A change in circumstances to warrant modification may include:

  • the recipient spouse cohabiting with a new partner (not enough by itself)
  • fraud and unilateral mistake
  • a change in need of the parties, or
  • a difference in the payer’s ability to pay.

Modify spousal support in Michigan

Modifying Your Alimony Payments in Michigan

A change in circumstances can allow you to file to modify your alimony payments. The first issue the judge will explore is whether there has been a change of circumstances that might warrant a change or modification to the spousal support.

In 2020, for example, a motion to modify spousal support was filed in Michigan. The case, Anderson v. Anderson was an interesting one, and ended up in appellate court. Mr. Anderson owned several oil businesses and made a tremendous living at the time of their divorce. The agreed upon amount of spousal support was uncontested.

However, the price of oil dropped sharply, causing Mr. Anderson’s businesses to begin to fail. He filed a motion to have his spousal support amended. The divorce court dismissed the motion because Mr. Anderson had agreed to the alimony amount with the knowledge that oil businesses can fluctuate in performance.

Upon appeal, however, because BOTH of the Andersons understood this, the motion was granted and Mr. Anderson was able to reduce his spousal support payments.

The loss of a job, reduction in income, and other circumstances can allow you to reduce your alimony payments.

Can Spousal Support Be Increased in Michigan?

Yes. Much like circumstances changing in a negative way, if circumstances improve for the spouse with the spousal support order, the other spouse can file for a modification as well.

What changes might cause this type of motion to be filed? If the spouse paying the alimony suddenly gets a significant raise at work or a promotion. The spouse that is receiving alimony might also lose a job or have medical issues that create a reduction in income.

A Michigan divorce attorney can help you navigate the waters of spousal support motions. Contact The Mitten Law Firm today.