Alimony / Spousal Support
What is Alimony/Spousal Support?
In Michigan, the concept of Alimony is commonly known as Spousal Support. Spousal Support is separate from child support, and can be ordered above and beyond child support and is designed to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that would not impoverish either. It is a money allowance given by one spouse to another, intended to pay for that spouse’s health, education, and general welfare. It is not intended to be part of the division of marital property. Such support is meant to be rehabilitative, to allow the receiving spouse time to get adjusted to the divorce and establish him or herself, financially. Like Child Support, Spousal Support provides that the payor’s employer withholds an amount of Spousal Support, for direct disbursement through the friend of the court. Spousal Support is typically paid on a monthly basis
Only hire a skilled and knowledgeable advocate when dealing with Spousal Support issues. To retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Can I get Spousal Support?
Spousal Support is typically not awarded to either spouse, especially when you and your spouse earn close to the same amount of income. It is also rarely awarded for a short term marriage. However, there is no specific time one must be married in order to receive Spousal Support. While it does not matter whether you are a man or a women, as either can be awarded Spousal Support, it is more common for a women to receive Spousal Support because men statistically earn more. Despite the emancipation of women, the career of a husband generally comes first, even in two-career, working-couple marriages, placing the wife at a greater disadvantage when your marriage fails.
Will I have to pay Spousal Support?
Whether or not you will have to pay Spousal Support is decided on a case-by-case basis. During the divorce proceedings you and your spouse may agree to a Spousal Support obligation in which you either receive or have to pay Spousal Support, at an amount and for a time specified by you and your spouse. Though Spousal Support is not mandatory, if Spousal Support cannot be negotiated a Court may order you or your spouse to pay Spousal Support if the Court believes it is just and reasonable in accordance with MCL 552.23; MSA 25.103. It is always preferable to negotiate any Spousal Support than to have a Judge decide whether Spousal Support is appropriate.
That said, if you earn substantially more money than your spouse and have been married for an extended period of time there is a strong chance the family law Judge assigned to hear your divorce case will order you to pay Spousal Support.
Let us help you negotiate a Spousal Support order that works for you. For more information about Spousal Support, other family law matters, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Is Spousal Support Temporary or Permanent?
Every case is different. However, this too can be negotiated during the divorce proceedings and can also be at the discretion and order of the Court. Spousal Support orders can be terminated in a number of different circumstances including but not limited to- a future designated date, when your former spouse remarries, if the judge determines that after some reasonable time your former spouse has not made an effort to become at least partially self-supporting, if your spouse dies, if there is some change in the payer’s ability to pay, or if there is some other significant event occurs which would justify modification of Spousal Support. Spousal Support can be for any length of time. Spousal Support orders may also provide for review at the end of a specific period of time.
Is my Spousal Support Modifiable?
Spousal Support is modifiable under Michigan law. However an individual can waive this right, meaning that Spousal Support could be both binding and non-modifiable. Spousal Support ordered by the Judge presiding over your divorce case will never be binding and non-modifiable and such Spousal Support order could and can only be by the consent of the parties.
Modifiable Spousal Support can be increased, reduced, or even terminated completely. However, in order to modify your Spousal Support the moving party must show some “change in circumstances.” The particular facts and circumstances of your case and the court decisions in your jurisdiction will control whether these events justify a change in circumstance that warrants a modification of your Spousal Support order. Though there are many things which may qualify as a “change in circumstance,” some of the more common events include:
- The payor spouse’s sudden and involuntary unemployment.
- An illness that makes it harder for the payor spouse to work.
- The recipient spouse’s ability to support him or herself.
- The payee-spouse begins living with another person of the opposite sex.
Do you need to have your Spousal Support order modified? Has your economic situation changed? For more information about Spousal Support modifications, other family law matters, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
Though there is no specific mathematical formula for determining what your Spousal Support award should be, the state of Michigan does provide calculation guidelines. In considering whether Spousal Support is just and reasonable in accordance with MCL 552.23 and MSA 25.103 a Judge will consider and evaluate the following factors:
- The conduct of the parties (i.e. fault).
- The length of the parties’ marriage.
- The parties’ ability to work.
- The ability of the parties to pay alimony.
- The source and amount of the property awarded to the parties.
- The age of the parties.
- The present situation of the parties.
- The parties’ contributions to the marriage.
- The needs of the parties.
- The health of the parties.
- The present standard of living of the parties.
- The prior standard of living of the parties.
- Whether either party is responsible for the support of others.
- General principles of equity.
To have us to estimate what your Spousal Support order might be or for more information about Spousal Support, other family law matters, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
What are the tax ramifications of Spousal Support?
Though many people do not consider the tax ramifications of receiving either spousal support and/or child support it is very much something every individual considering divorce or separation needs to understand before the divorce or separation is finalized. Spousal Support is tax-deductible to the individual who pays it, and is considered income for the individual who receives it. Conversely, child support payments have different tax ramifications. The individual who receives it is not taxed and the individual who pays the child support is unable to deduct it. So understandably it is very important as to how your divorce decree is structured (i.e. whether a monetary payment between the parties is made as child support and/or alimony spousal support as this will determine how your taxes are filed).
If your judgment of divorce provides both spousal support and child support, and you pay less than the total of both, the payments are applied to the child support, any remaining amount is considered spousal support. Noncash payments, property settlements, and voluntary payments (i.e. non-court-ordered payments) are not considered spousal support and therefore are not tax-deductible.
It is critical to negotiate spousal support and child support with the knowledge of tax consequences. For more information about divorce, family law matters, or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398 7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.