One of the most important concerns for Michigan residents going through a divorce is the financial status of the parties after the divorce is resolved. Both parties’ financial status will be affected by the division of marital assets and, if the couple has minor children, the award of child support. A third issue is whether the court will order one spouse to pay support to the other. An overview of the rules of spousal support can be useful in planning for a post-divorce life.
Unlike child support, a judge is not obligated to order one ex-spouse to pay spousal support to the other. Orders granting or denying spousal support are made on a case-by-case basis, and the court weighs a number of factors. In many divorces, especially those involving high-income couples, the determination of spousal support may be quite complex.
The judge will first evaluate the length of the marriage. Spousal support is more likely to be awarded if the couple has been married for a significant length of time. The parties’ behavior during the marriage may also be considered. The ability of each party to work is another important factor. If one party has a limited ability to earn a living, either because of a disabling physical condition or lack of adequate education and training, the court may be persuaded to grant support to such a party to ensure financial stability after the divorce is completed.
The court will also examine the ages of the parties and the amount of property each is receiving in the divorce. An important factor in this analysis is the liquidity of the assets. Parties in a divorce are ordinarily not expected to use the assets awarded in the divorce to pay daily living expenses.
The bottom line
The court will ultimately attempt to determine what type and amount of award will be fair and equitable to both parties. The above factors should be considered guidelines, not hard and fast rules. The judge can also consider other factors that may bear upon the fairness of each party’s respective situation.
The award of spousal support can be a complex process. The assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer can help a person understand the factors and marshal necessary evidence to support an award.