Alimony can be a touchy subject for divorcing couples. Knowing you’re going to fork over cash to support your ex after they leave you can be galling. On the flip side, knowing that your ex is making off with the majority of the earning power but is still fighting about having to help you out after all you did to support them during the marriage, can be equally frustrating. However, emotions aside, the subject of spousal support can be a difficult one for many people, as there are no one-size fits all stock answers for all those questions you have. Which is where we come in… So here you go: some answers to your questions about alimony in Michigan.
Is it still called alimony, or did they change the name?
Many people (and family lawyers) still use the term “alimony” for all money paid to one spouse by another after a divorce. However, here in Michigan the proper name for the court-ordered money paid to a former spouse is “spousal support” which is a gender neutral term (alimony is gender specific, in that it refers to money paid by a husband to a wife after their divorce) In some cases, people also call it “Maintenance.”
Can we figure it out between ourselves, or do we need a judge’s help?
Just like with many other aspects of divorce, you don’t have to involve the court, you can make the decisions on your own, as long as they are fair and equitable. A divorcing couple is legally allowed to agree between themselves on a spousal support arrangement that works for both of them, without the involvement of the court. If you and your soon-to-be-ex are able to come to some kind of agreement, with or without the help of attorneys, then the law allows and even encourages that. However, if you can’t agree, the court will decide on your behalf.
How much alimony will I be required to pay my ex after the divorce?
While Michigan law has very detailed formulas for determining exactly how much child support a parent has to pay in each child custody case, there’s nothing similar in place for spousal support. Which means that if a couple can’t figure out a fair settlement on their own, each case has to be determined by a judge, using a long list of loose guidelines. This is a rough approximation of the factors a judge uses while trying to figure out the right spousal support payment in divorce cases:
- How long the couple was married for prior to filing for divorce
- The material and physical needs of each spouse
- The age, health, and possible medical conditions of each spouse
- The ability of each spouse to earn a viable income
- The income potential of the paying spouse
- How the assets and debts were divided in the divorce judgement
- Other financial resources available to each spouse
- Behaviors that might have led to the breakdown of the marriage by each spouse
- The lifestyle that the couple was accustomed to living before the divorce
- General principles of fairness
Is there any other way a Judge can figure out alimony?
However, some judges, when forced to make an immediate decision, have used this very simplified equation to figure out an amount for spousal support payments:
Determine what each individual’s monthly income is and then each person’s basic monthly payments ( mortgage, etc…) from their income. Then add the two amounts together and divide the total in half. Then simply award spousal support to the spouse whose income does not meet the halfway point in the calculation.
Alimony is best decided with help from an experienced family lawyer!
Join us next time for a discussion on the types of spousal support available in Michigan, and what your choices are. There may be more options than you thought! Until then, if you or a loved one are considering divorce, and you have questions about alimony in Michigan and how it could impact your divorce, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys can help you with that, and so much more!