Spousal support (otherwise known as alimony) is court-ordered financial assistance paid by one spouse to the other following a separation or divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to help the receiving spouse maintain their standard of living, which may be difficult to do if they were previously relying on the other spouse’s income.
In some cases, a court may order spousal support; in others, the couple may agree on an amount and duration of payments. In most cases, periodic spousal support is paid until the recipient spouse can become self-sufficient or remarries. In rare circumstances, permanent spousal support may be ordered.
The decision to award spousal support is made on a case-by-case basis. There is no set formula that a Michigan court will use to determine how much spousal support should be awarded. If the divorcing parties cannot agree on an amount or duration of support, a judge will make the decision based on several factors. These include the length of the marriage, the incomes of both parties and each party’s needs and abilities to pay. The cause of the divorce can influence whether or not alimony will be ordered, but it’s not a deciding factor.
A judge may also consider whether either spouse has given up or shortchanged their own career in order to focus on raising children and taking care of the household. Similarly, the court can take into account one spouse having contributed to the educational or career advancement of the other. Still other factors can include the spouses’ ages if one or both of them are nearing retirement and how much of the property and assets will be left to each spouse after the estate is divided up.
All in all, a judge’s goal will be to ensure that both parties can maintain a standard of living after the divorce that is comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage. If after a divorce, one spouse would need to go on government assistance, a larger support award would be justified. If spousal support is a concern in your divorce case, you need experienced legal representation on your side.
At Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights, we are dedicated to protecting our clients’ right to receive spousal support or to assume a fair and manageable support obligation. If you are considering divorce in Michigan or your case has already begun, contact us online or call 833-671-4445 to schedule a consultation. We will take the time to review your unique situation and explain your legal options so that you can make informed decisions about your future.