In Michigan, spousal support — also known as alimony — is often awarded in a divorce to a spouse in need of financial assistance, whether for a short or long term. In general, the more financially dependent that one spouse was on the other during the marriage, the more likely that support will be awarded. The longer the marriage lasted, the more likely the dependent spouse will be awarded support for a significant period of time. However, an award of support is based on the spouses’ economic circumstances at the time of the divorce. Since those circumstances can change over time, an award may be subject to modification.
A spousal support award might be modifiable or not depending on how it originated. In a negotiated divorce settlement, the parties can agree that support is fixed at a certain amount or put limits on modification. On the other hand, a support award decided by a judge is subject to modification based on changed circumstances. Either the payer or the recipient may petition the family court for an order increasing or decreasing the amount of the payments.
To justify a modification, the claimed change of circumstances must significantly affect the individual economic status of one of the parties. Inflation, recession and other economic trends affecting the public at large generally do not qualify, since these are likely to impact both spouses equally.
Some examples of situations that might warrant modifying spousal support include:
A significant change in circumstances does not automatically warrant a spousal support modification. The family court may consider a number of factors in making a decision. These include whether the changed circumstances are temporary or permanent, whether and to what degree each party will be affected by conditions and whether the new set of circumstances was reasonably foreseeable at the time the existing support orders were entered. To make a compelling case for a modification, seek the advice of an experienced spousal support attorney.
Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights focuses on divorce and family law matters throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Feel free to contact me online or call 833-671-4445 for an initial consultation.