Alimony Law in Michigan

Undergoing a divorce can lead to significant financial worries. But in Michigan, provisions are available for spousal support or alimony that can be requested if one spouse shows financial need and the other can afford to pay.

Spousal support involves one ex-spouse providing financial assistance to the other, either during or following a divorce, in order to sustain the financial stability of both parties. The specifics—like amount, frequency, and duration—will depend on individual circumstances. The court usually endorses agreed upon terms between the divorcing parties, unless they seem unfair to either party (as per MCL 552.23 (1)).

Understanding Support Options in Michigan

Michigan’s alimony system offers four forms of spousal support: temporary, periodic, permanent, and lump-sum (also known as alimony in gross). The court will assess your situation and decide the most suitable type of support.

Temporary support caters to spouses unable to support themselves during the divorce process. This type of support may be requested when filing for divorce but will only be granted if deemed appropriate.

Such temporary support is often referred to as “status quo” payments. If your spouse has historically been responsible for mortgage, utilities, and car payments, the court may order this to continue throughout the divorce. Further, if there is a notable discrepancy in income, additional temporary support may be granted. This terminates when the final divorce judgment is delivered.

Periodic support is more prevalent in Michigan, awarded either short-term (rehabilitative support) or long-term. It is typically awarded when one spouse will eventually be self-supporting but needs time to get there. For instance, if a spouse had given up their career for familial responsibilities or supporting the other’s career, periodic spousal support may be granted to allow them to become financially independent.

Permanent spousal support is less common and is usually reserved for cases involving long marriages, or if a spouse cannot be financially independent due to age, health, or disability.

Lump-sum support is suitable for situations where one spouse can afford to pay the entire support amount at once. While the benefit is that there’s no continuing obligation for payments, the downside involves providing a substantial value of property or a large monetary amount upfront.

Eligibility for Spousal Support

In Michigan, either spouse can request spousal support during a divorce. However, this request needs to be explicitly mentioned in your initial divorce paperwork. It’s a myth that a 10-year marriage is required for a court to grant support. Alimony can be awarded regardless of the marriage length if one party qualifies.

Factors Considered by the Court

Unlike child support, there is no fixed formula for calculating spousal support in Michigan. Instead, several factors are taken into consideration, including:

  • Past relations and conduct
  • Ability to workSource and amount
  • of property awarded in the divorce
  • Age and health of each party
  • Financial situation
  • Needs of each spouse
  • Prior standard of living
  • Contribution to the marital estate
  • Reason for divorce
  • Impact of cohabitation on financial status
  • Any other principles of equity.
  • Spousal Support Payment Process

In Michigan, the Friend of the Court (FOC) oversees child support and alimony payments. With the final divorce judgment, the court typically issues income withholding orders to the employer of the paying spouse. This ensures the payments are deducted from the paycheck and routed directly to the recipient spouse.

Failure to comply with these court orders can lead to penalties, including restriction of licenses, wage and bank account garnishment, tax refund interceptions, and even jail sentences.