Michigan Alimony FAQ

Alimony is one of the most common issues which must be addressed during divorce proceedings. The dissolution alone is difficult and money often complicates the situation further. Alimony can be a tricky subject, especially in the middle of any type of traumatic life event. It is important to find professional legal representation in these matters.

What is alimony?

Alimony is payments to assist in the support of a spouse after divorce. This may be a lump sum, or an amount paid in increments for a specified duration. When one individual in the marriage earns significantly more money than the other, especially if the other is unable to support him or herself, a court will award alimony payments.

What are the determining factors is alimony cases?

Spousal support and property settlements are considered two separate issues. Alimony payments are awarded after the division of property. The goal is to find a monetary balance to maintain each party’s standard of living as much as possible. Alimony is also intended to assist the dependent spouse in attaining self-sufficiency.

Michigan Courts consider several factors while deciding if spousal support should be awarded.  

  • The length of the marriage is relevant, especially when the dependent spouse has no marketable skills.
  • If the dependent spouse’s ability to work is severely compromised, the courts may opt to award a long-term solution as opposed to temporary alimony.
  • Though Michigan is a no-fault state, the courts may also take conduct such as substance abuse or infidelity into consideration.
  • Age can have a significant impact on the final decision since older individuals may find it difficult to obtain self-sufficiency.
  • Alimony payments can be awarded based on the judge’s idea of the support spouse’s potential income, if it appears, he or she is intentionally earning less to avoid payment responsibility.
  • The courts examine the support spouse’s ability to pay and the recipient’s current and anticipated needs.
  • The health of both parties is highly relevant as it can directly affect self-support and payment ability.
  • General Principles of Equity is a bit tricky as it refers to the court’s right to use the factors it deems relevant to make a just alimony payment decision.

Can alimony payments be revised?

A judge has the right to modify alimony payments as he or she sees fit. The divorce judgment may include a waiver in which both parties agree that the final spousal support decision is binding and not modifiable. In this case, neither party has a legal right to ask for revisions.

A waiver is an option only if the parties have been proactive in settling their own divorce agreement. Trials involving a court judgment cannot include this type of waiver. When revisions are allowed, proof of life-altering changes in circumstance is required. This can be due to serious unexpected expenses, illness, home foreclosure, or loss of job.

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Contact Brian F. Abramson to schedule an alimony and/or divorce consultation today. Brian is an expert Family Law attorney in eastern Michigan with more than 23 years of experience. He is sensitive to all individuals facing this challenging time.