Spousal Support Factors

Spousal support may be granted when there is a discrepancy in income between each spouse. In most cases, spousal support is determined by agreement after review of income verses expenses along with other determining factors listed below. Most attorneys review support calculations generated by family law software programs to help determine a starting point for discussion based on income, tax status, education, age and the length of marriage. It is extremely helpful to prepare a budget during the divorce process to review cash flow needs compared to the division of income.

The agreement for spousal support may be non-modifiable as to the amount and duration or a combination such as a modifiable amount for a specific period of time if the parties agree to waive their statutory right to modify support. However, spousal support is always modifiable if the court determines the spousal support award based on “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) In Michigan, there are multiple factors that the judge will consider when deciding an award for spousal support, also known as alimony, including:

  • Past relations and conduct of the parties. 
  • Length of the marriage. 
  • Ability of the parties to work.
  • Source and amount of property awarded to the parties. 
  • Ages of the parties.
  • Ability of the parties to pay spousal support. 
  • Present situation of the parties.
  • Needs of the parties.
  • Health of the parties. 
  • Prior standard of living of the parties.
  • Whether either party is responsible for the support of others.
  • General principles of equity.

The payments may be monthly or a lump sum payment when determined by agreement. Spousal support may be paid temporarily during the case and also after the divorce is final. Termination factors may include remarriage, death, cohabitation, or a specific length of time. Support may qualify for a tax deduction by the payer. The issue of spousal support is reserved if the judgment of divorce does not specifically mention spousal support pursuant to MCR 3.211(B)(4).

Please contact our office for more information regarding spousal support.