Historically, the court called spousal support “alimony”. The new term is spousal support. The award of spousal support has changed over the years. Traditionally, spousal support was awarded to the women for her support because she was unable to care for herself. marriage was an obligation to support the women until death, remarriage or cohabitation. Today, spousal support is still awarded. Rarely is it awarded for life (death remarriage or cohabitation). Typically spousal support is awarded for a period of years based on the length of the marriage and disparity of income.
When filing for a divorce, it is important to think about a plan for the future. Will you want to return to work immediately or go back to school to increase your job skills?
The court may award spousal support as is just and reasonable if the property award is insufficient for the suitable support of either party and any children of the marriage of whom the party has custody. The court must consider “the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case.” MCL 552.23(1).
Factors to be considered include the following:
1. Past relations and conduct of the parties. How the parties conducted the marriage as well as fault in the breakdown of the marriage. Fault is only one factor and should not be assigned disproportionate weight.
2. Length of the marriage. A long-term marriage is especially relevant where one spouse has no career or marketable skills and his or her standard of living may be reduced because of the divorce.
3. Ability of the parties to work.
4. Source of and amount of property awarded to the parties. The focus is on the income-earning potential of the assets rather than their value; a spouse is not required to dissipate property awarded to meet daily needs where spousal support can be available.
5. Ages of the parties.
6. Ability of the parties to pay spousal support. Sources considered in determining the ability to pay include earnings, pension plans, unemployment compensation, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits. Ability to pay includes the payer spouse’s unexercised ability to earn if income is voluntarily reduced to avoid paying spousal support. Factors relevant to the ability to pay include (1) the parties’ employment histories, (2) reasons for any termination of employment, (3) work opportunities available, (4) diligence in trying to find employment, and (5) availability of employment.
7. Present situation of the parties.
8. Needs of the parties.
9. Health of the parties. The parties’ health is relevant to the ability to work and to the personal needs of the spouse seeking support.
10. Prior standard of living of the parties.
11. Whether either party is responsible for the support of others.
12. General principles of equity.
GRAND RAPIDS ALIMONY AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT ATTORNEYS
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KRUPP LAW OFFICES P.C.
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Grand Rapids MI 49503
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