Alimony, or spousal support, is the court-ordered payment of money to the current or former spouse in proceedings of divorce. Both terms mean the same thing.
Here in Michigan, we tend to call it spousal support these days. Spousal support can be temporary or it can be permanent. It can be short term or long term. It can be modifiable and in some cases, it is not modifiable.
It used to be that spousal support was only given to wives or ex-wives, but that has long since changed since Michigan adopted No-Fault Divorce. Now, alimony laws have become more gender neutral. Statistics do however show that in the US, only about 3% of the alimony is paid to men.
What is the purpose of Spousal Support?
Spousal support payments serve two primary functions. The first is to allow a spouse to live reasonably after marriage. A lot of times, one spouse stays at home to take care of the household and has not had the opportunity to advance in their career.
In some long term marriages, court seek to maintain the standard of living that both parties enjoyed during their marriage. This is why one of the goals of spousal support is to make sure that spouse is still taken care of.
On a similar note, the second purpose of spousal support / alimony in Michigan is to make sure neither spouse is unduly punished or impoverished because of a divorce. No one should be left destitute because of divorce. Sometimes in Michigan, this is called rehabilitative spousal support. It’s temporary, allowing enough time for a spouse to get back on their feet after the divorce.
How is Spousal Support Ordered?
There are two different ways for a court to award alimony or spousal support: one lump sum payment or a modifiable payment, paid over a period of time.
There are various advantages and disadvantages to both types of spousal support awards. In Michigan, nearly all spousal support is paid over a period of time. An experienced alimony or family law attorney will know the strengths and weaknesses of both and will advocate for the best choice for you.
Ultimately, the court decides what kind of spousal support award you will give or receive, so our attorneys will work the strengths and weaknesses of the judge’s choice to your advantage. On the other hand, much more alimony / spousal support is negotiated than is determined by a judge. Most often, the terms of the alimony are a part of the whole property settlement negotiation between the attorneys.
Negotiated settlements can be either modifiable or not modifiable. Note the distinction between negotiated settlement and court ordered spousal support. The court can order ONLY modifiable spousal support. However, the parties are free to negotiate for non-modifiable spousal support. Here in Mid-Michigan, the negotiated modifiable spousal support is the most common result.
How is Spousal Support calculated?
In Michigan, there is no precise formula for calculating spousal support payments. To decide on these payments, the court looks to various factors and weighs each accordingly.
Visit our FAQ page on Spousal Support for more information. Judges have much discretion in deciding alimony including the amount of alimony and the number of payments.
Spousal Support Modifications
Thankfully, your spousal support payments can be modified if your attorney negotiated that. If you are not satisfied with the current spousal support situation, our attorneys at The Kronzek Firm can help you go through the proper steps for modification, if that is permitted under the terms of your Judgment of Divorce.
Spousal Support is a topic that can be very complicated and emotional, but The Kronzek Firm attorneys have been at this for decades and we can help you with your case. Fill out our contact form and we can set up a meeting time to discuss your alimony case.
Call us today at (517) 886-1000 or send us an email!