Michigan Spousal support (Michigan alimony) is not part of the property settlement; it is a separate consideration. The goal of spousal support is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either party. The courts consider a number of factors in deciding whether or not to award spousal support, and must make findings on each factor that is relevant to the claim before it.
Factors for Qualifying for Michigan Spousal Support (Michigan Alimony)
- Past Relations and Conduct of the Parties: The conduct or “fault” of the party during the marriage (such as infidelity or substance abuse) will be considered in deciding on spousal support, even though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state.
- Length of the Marriage: Long-term marriages are especially relevant where one spouse has no career or marketable skills and will likely have to endure a lower standard of living as a result of the divorce.
- Ability to Work: Courts have ruled that a temporary award of spousal support is unfair where there is serious doubt about a spouse’s ability to fully support himself or herself after an award of temporary spousal support has expired.
- Source and Amount of Property Awarded: The focus here is on the earning potential of the assets (not their overall value), especially when both parties have substantial assets and there is a large disparity in their respective incomes. A party should not have to dissipate their property award in order to support himself or herself.
- Ages of the Parties: This factor is especially relevant to the party’s ability to support himself or herself.
- Ability to Pay: The financial situation of the parties and the money needed for their support must be considered. The ability to pay spousal support includes the unexercised ability to earn where one spouse intentionally reduces income to avoid paying support. The interest is in protecting the dependent spouse from poverty as a result of the other spouse’s spite or avoidance of responsibility.
- Present Situation of the Parties: Looks at the effect of different factors on present ability to pay and the present or anticipated needs of the spouse seeking support.
- The Needs of the Parties: The court must evaluate the combined effect of various factors on present or future needs of the spouse seeking support.
- Health of the Parties: Health is relevant to the ability to work and personal needs of the spouse seeking support
- Prior Standard of Living: Spousal support should be granted to ensure that a spouse is not deprived of their right to support at a level commensurate with what they would have enjoyed had the marriage survived.
- General Principles of Equity: Courts apply a balancing test to determine the fairness of a spousal support award, looking at the amount needed and the amount the paying spouse could reasonably afford, the amount of both parties’ incomes, and the ability of each party to ensure that neither party will be impoverished in the process.