July 16, 2021

What Factors Are Considered When Awarding Spousal Support?

It is important that when a couple in Michigan divorces, that both spouses can support themselves financially once the divorce is complete. This can be problematic if one spouse earned significantly more than the other while married or if one spouse stayed out of the workforce altogether while married to care for the family. For this reason, Michigan courts may award spousal support to the lesser-earning spouse.

How much will I pay in spousal support?

Unlike child support there is no set formula for determining whether a spouse will receive spousal support and if so, how much they will receive. Spousal support is decided on a case-by-case basis. Generally, it is awarded if one spouse will be placed in a financially worse position post-divorce and the other spouse can afford to make up some of the difference in financial disparity.

What factors will the court consider when awarding spousal support?

Sometimes a couple can agree to a spousal support award out-of-court. If not, a judge will decide whether to order spousal support and if so, how much to award. The following are some factors the judge may consider when making these decisions.

One factor that may be considered is each spouse’s behavior during the marriage and which spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. That being said, a spousal support award will not be based on fault alone.

How long the marriage lasted may be considered, especially if one spouse does not have an established career or job skills. Similarly, whether each spouse can work may be considered. This means the judge may look at each spouse’s earning potential.

What is awarded in the property division process may be considered. Specifically, whether an awarded asset is “liquid,” meaning it can be converted to cash or is cash, will be considered. If a spouse does not have much in the way of cash-assets this can be a factor in determining whether spousal support is awarded and if so, how much should be awarded.

How old each spouse is may be considered, especially if one or both spouses are retired and have a fixed income. Each spouse’s ability to pay spousal support may be considered, as may each spouse’s current living situation and each spouse’s needs. Each spouse’s health may be considered as will the standard of living the spouses enjoyed while married.

Whether either spouse is supporting others, such as children, may be considered. If a spouse is cohabitating with someone else may also be considered, especially if this affects the cohabitating spouse’s financial status. Finally, fairness will be considered.

Learn more about spousal support in Michigan

If you are divorcing in Michigan, it is important that you understand your rights and options regarding spousal support. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on spousal support in Michigan may be a good resource for those who want to learn more about this topic.