Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal Support Attorney Assisting Traverse City and Grand Rapids Residents

Alimony is also known as spousal support, and unlike child support, it is not mandated by law. There is no clear formula applied in Michigan to determine how much should be awarded. Instead, alimony is an area in which a court has significant discretion, and in which an experienced family law attorney may make a big difference. Whether you are requesting alimony or fighting against a request for it, Grand Rapids and Traverse City alimony lawyer Kelly Neumann and the Neumann Law Group can provide experienced legal representation in your divorce case.

Determinations of Alimony in Michigan

Spousal support is decided on a case-by-case basis. A court may not impose any sort of rigid formula or simple rule on any spousal support matter. Instead, the court is supposed to evaluate a number of relevant factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, their needs, their ability to work, the ability of the spouse being asked to support the other spouse to do so, the standard of living when the spouses were married, the property awarded as part of the divorce, each spouse’s separate property and assets, fault, and general principles of fairness. If a property award is not enough to support a spouse and any children who are living with that spouse, and the spouses were married for a long time, there is a reasonable chance that alimony will be awarded.

Allegations of infidelity or domestic violence within a marriage may be permitted by a family court in Michigan when making an alimony determination. Becse courts are allowed to consider fault in awarding spousal support, if one of the parties was engaged in an extramarital affair or was violent during the marriage, it may increase or decrease the likelihood of the court awarding alimony against or to that spouse. Extramarital affairs can have a further effect on an alimony determination if the affair had an effect on the couple’s finances. For example, a divorcing spouse would likely have a better chance of obtaining a substantial alimony award if their lawyer can prove that the other party went on extravagant trips and spent large amounts of marital assets in furtherance of an affair.

How long does an alimony order last? Judges may order alimony for varying periods of time. They may look at each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate, their stations in life during the marriage, their needs and circumstances, how long the marriage lasted, and the paying spouse’s ongoing ability to pay, as well as the recipient spouse’s likelihood of getting a job or otherwise becoming self-supporting.

Sometimes after a divorce, a paying ex-spouse’s ability to pay may change. Judges may modify alimony orders. However, in some cases, spouses at the time of a divorce negotiate alimony between them and also negotiate that the spousal support provision in a divorce consent judgment will be binding and may not be modified. This waives the right to ask the court to modify an alimony order. However, if the court has ordered alimony at its discretion, and the spouses did not negotiate their own settlement terms, the court cannot make this order non-modifiable. If there has been a significant change of circumstances, you may request a modification of court-ordered alimony. A significant change of circumstances might include a paying spouse developing a serious illness or disability that makes them unable to work.

More often, the spouses negotiate the conditions under which alimony would terminate. For example, they may agree that remarriage or cohabitation, the death of a spouse, or a spouse receiving a degree that may result in employment opportunities are events that would trigger the termination of alimony.

Consult with Family and Divorce Lawyers in Traverse City or Grand Rapids

The prospect of getting or not getting alimony may be stressful for ex-spouses in Michigan. In most situations, it is useful to retain legal representation to protect your interests. Our Traverse City and Grand Rapids alimony attorneys can handle these matters in many areas of the state, including Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as throughout the Upper Peninsula. We are a full service family law firm, and also assist cleints with issues related to child custody, child support, and annulments. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form for a free appointment with a knowledgeable divorce attorney.

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