If you’re thinking about filing for divorce or your spouse has already done so, you’re probably wondering how you may get some relief from your financial troubles.
In Michigan, spousal support (commonly known as alimony) can be requested if the asking spouse can show a financial necessity and the other party can afford to pay.
During or after a divorce, spousal support is a payment made by one ex-spouse to the other. Spousal support is intended to ensure that both spouses can meet their financial obligations throughout and after the divorce process.
The amount, frequency, and length of assistance will be determined by your unique circumstances. If you and your husband agree on an amount and period for spousal maintenance, the court will honour it, as it does with other problems in divorce.
Calculating Spousal Support In Michigan
In Michigan, there is no method for assessing spousal support. The court makes the final decision on spousal support after weighing 12 considerations. Age, health, needs, and earning capacity of each spouse; each party’s conduct and contributions during the marriage; how the marital property was distributed; and more.
Consider the following scenario. A couple has been married for 25 years. The husband has a yearly gross income of $80,000 (before taxes), whereas his wife has never worked. The wife, who is 50 years old, has done some college courses. They had two adult children together. Thus there is no duty to pay child support. They intend to divide their assets equally, and they have no big debt to worry about.
Under Michigan alimony rules, spousal support is computed using twelve separate parameters. Let’s look at an alimony calculator software tool in Michigan that can estimate spousal support for you based on the facts of your case.
Spousal support could be $2,300 per month in this divorce scenario. This is determined using zero for the wife’s income and $80,000 for the husband’s annual salary. This sum is paid with pre-tax monies. Thus it is tax-deductible for the husband, but it must be claimed as income by the wife.
Spousal support is $1,700 per month if the wife’s income is changed to potential income at minimum wage—or a $17,000 yearly gross income.
Types Of Spousal Support
Spousal assistance in Michigan is divided into four categories:
- Lump-sum (alimony in gross.)
If you are eligible for help, the court will decide what type of assistance is best for you. Temporary assistance is only available while the divorce is pending. Periodic support is paid in equal installments over a set length of time, permanent support is paid indefinitely, and lump-sum support is paid all at once.
Spouses who are unable to support themselves during the divorce procedure may be eligible for temporary support. When filing for divorce, either party can request temporary support, but the court will only grant it if it is reasonable.
Courts sometimes refer to temporary support payments as “status quo” payments. If your spouse has always paid the mortgage, utility bills, and auto payments, the court may require that he or she continue to do so during the divorce proceedings.
If there is a need and a considerable income disparity, the court may give interim support in addition to the status quo payments. Temporary support and status quo orders usually expire when the divorce is finalized, and a new support order is issued (or integrates the interim award into the final judgment.)
The most prevalent type of support in Michigan is periodic support, which the court might give for a short time (called rehabilitative support) or for a lengthy time. When one spouse is capable of self-sufficiency but not immediately, periodic help is frequent. In circumstances when one spouse gave up a career to raise a family or support the other’s work, the court may give periodic spousal support for a length of time to allow the recipient to gain employment skills or complete a degree that will help that spouse become financially independent.
In Michigan, permanent spousal support is becoming the exception, except for circumstances when the parties have been married for a long time, and the beneficiary spouse cannot become financially self-sufficient due to age, health, or disability.
Although uncommon, lump-sum support is permissible when one spouse can afford to pay the whole support award in one payment. Instead of money, lump-sum payments are frequently made in the form of personal or real property. The advantage of lump-sum support is that there is no ongoing duty to pay an ex-spouse bi-weekly, monthly, or annual payments. The disadvantage is that the paying spouse will have to contribute a substantial amount of property or a lump-sum cash payment upfront.
Factors Which Court Considered For Alimony In Michigan
In the state of Michigan, either spouse can seek spousal support in the event of a divorce. It’s critical to remember that a request for assistance must be addressed in your original divorce filing for the court to consider it. If you’re the filing spouse, you’ll need to state that you require financial support in your divorce petition. It’s critical that you file an answer to the divorce lawsuit and your spouse’s alimony request as the respondent (or defendant).
It’s a frequent myth that you and your spouse must have been married for at least ten years for the court to award support. While a judge is more likely to grant support to couples who have been married for a long time, the court will provide support to couples who have been married for any length of time.
Judges take into account the following variables in addition to the length of the marriage:
- The parties’ previous interactions and behavior.
- The ability to work for each spouse.
- The source and value of the property are given to the divorced parties.
- Each party’s age and state of health.
- The state of each party’s finances.
- Each spouse’s requirements.
- The parties’ previous standard of living and whether they support other dependents
- Contribution of each party to the marital estate.
- Whether the divorce was precipitated by the behavior of one of the spouses.
- What effect does cohabitation have on a couple’s financial situation?
- Any other general equitable principles.
The amount of alimony paid is mostly determined by the salaries of both spouses. The court will aim to award an amount that will allow the receiving spouse to keep their home and live comfortably. It could also include an award of attorney expenses that the receiving spouse has already paid.
Although there is no “formula” for judges to utilize when determining alimony in Michigan, some courts use the child support formula as a starting point for spousal support orders. When it comes to making a final ruling, however, the court has a lot of leeways.
Also, read: Grandparent’s rights in Michigan.
How Do I Pay Spousal Support?
Friend of the Court (FOC) is a family court in Michigan that oversees child support and alimony payments. Typically, the court will issue income withholding orders to the paying spouse’s job along with the final divorce decree. Each spouse’s identifying details, job information for the paying spouse, and the amount, frequency, and duration of the award are all included in an income withholding order.
When the employer gets the income withholding order, payroll must follow through and ensure that the payments are deducted from the paying spouse’s paycheck as necessary, allowing the money to be sent straight to the recipient spouse.
Support orders are court orders, which means you must abide by them or face the consequences. If the paying spouse fails to make payments, the recipient may request assistance from the FOC by filing a motion for contempt. While the FOC cannot determine whether a party is in contempt, it can rule out circumstances where no violation has occurred.
If the FOC determines that a party is in violation of the order, it can schedule a hearing for the paying spouse to explain the non-payment to the judge. Restriction of driver’s or professional license, interruption of passport services, garnishment of earnings and bank accounts, tax refund interceptions, and jail sentences are all possible penalties for contempt in Michigan.
Couples can choose to opt-out of FOC services in particular circumstances (for example, if there are no young children or domestic abuse). The spouses are completely responsible for establishing arrangements for sending and receiving payments in opt-out circumstances. If you choose to opt-out, it may be more difficult (though not impossible) to enforce the ruling later.
Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support
Unless you agree to different provisions in your divorce agreement, the need to pay alimony stops when either partner dies or when the individual receiving alimony remarries.
Because courts recognise that circumstances change, you may ask the court to alter your present order if you can show a significant change in circumstances since the last order. A change in conditions that may necessitate a modification could include:
- Cohabiting with a new partner by the recipient spouse (not enough by itself).
- Fraud and a one-sided error
- The parties require a change.
- A disparity in the payer’s financial ability to pay
You and Your Spouse Can Agree on Spousal Support
Spousal support is part of the overall property division in a divorce. You and your spouse can try to work out a property settlement yourselves. This includes whether one party will pay spousal support and how much it will be.
If you and your spouse cannot agree, the judge will make the final decision.
If you or your spouse requests the judge for spousal support, the judge will take into account the following factors:
During the marriage, how each side acted.
The judge will examine the behavior of the spouses and determine who was to blame for the marriage’s demise. However, fault will not be enough to sustain a spousal support award.
The duration of the relationship.
The longer the marriage, the more probable spousal maintenance will be awarded by the judge. This is especially significant if one of the spouses does not have a job or has limited employment abilities.
Whether each party is capable of cooperating.
A judge is more likely to give spousal support to someone who is unable or unlikely to work. Spousal support may be temporary in order to allow the person to complete their education.
How much property each person receives in the divorce and whether or not the property is “liquid.”
In a divorce lawsuit, the property and obligations of the parties are distributed. Judges evaluate each partner’s type and quantity of property when determining whether one individual requires spousal maintenance. A person’s property award is usually not expected to be used to pay for day-to-day living expenditures. The judge may find it reasonable to award spousal support to a party that is receiving largely non-cash assets.
The ages of the individuals involved.
Spousal support is more likely to be needed by an older individual who has not worked during the marriage. However, suppose the other spouse is retired and living on a limited income. In that case, it may be difficult to award spousal support, especially if the individual receiving the assistance is under the age of retirement.
Whether each side is financially capable of paying spousal support.
The judge will weigh the earning potential of the paying spouse against the ability of the other spouse to sustain herself or himself.
The parties’ present living circumstances.
The judge will take into account the earning potential and professional possibilities of each spouse.
Each party’s requirements.
The judge will assess how each party’s needs affect their capacity to pay spousal support or influence their need for it.
Each party’s well-being.
A party’s health is particularly important if it affects their capacity to work and satisfy personal obligations.
The parties’ previous standard of living.
The life during a marriage is a good place to start when determining whether one spouse should pay spousal support to the other. In some instances, a person has the right to maintain the same standard of living as before the marriage. If one spouse intends to maintain the marital standard of living and the other does not, the judge may utilise spousal support to balance things out.
Whether or whether any party has other supporters.
The judge will look at how each spouse’s commitment to supporting others impacts things like their capacity to work and pay support.
How much each party has put into the joint estate.
The judge will take into account what each partner brought to the marriage. This does not simply imply making a monetary contribution. The judge may consider the spouses’ efforts equivalent if the other spouse participated by raising the kids, for example.
Whether or not one of the parties lives with another person.
The judge will take into account whether a party lives with another person and how this affects their financial situation.
When deciding whether or not to award spousal support and how much to order, the judge will evaluate what is fair and reasonable.
The judge will decide on spousal support based on the grounds listed above as well as any other relevant information. Each factor does not have to be given equal weight by the judge. If one party wants spousal support, the judge must make judgments on all relevant factors.
A judge will usually change spousal support when one party’s circumstances have altered.
Taxes and Alimony In Michigan
It’s understandable that paying spousal support might be difficult to swallow. Tax legislation enabled the paying spouse to deduct alimony payments for purposes of the annual tax return in divorces finalized before December 31, 2018. When it comes to the bottom line, tax deductions are crucial. Thus the alimony deduction was advantageous financially. Additionally, prior to December 31, 2018, the IRS required persons receiving alimony payments to disclose the payments as income, which was inconvenient for some supported spouses.
In 2017, the President signed new tax legislation that altered how alimony payments were handled for tax reasons. The paying spouse no longer can claim a tax deduction, which means the paying spouse obtains no tax credit for payments made throughout the year. Furthermore, the support recipient is no longer required to disclose the payments as income.
Before establishing a spousal support agreement, divorced couples should evaluate the most recent tax rules.
In Michigan, spousal support (commonly known as alimony) can be requested if the asking spouse can show a financial necessity and the other party can afford to pay. During or after a divorce, spousal support is a payment made by one ex-spouse to the other.
A maintenance payment equal to 20% to 30% of the other spouse’s total monthly income can be paid to the spouse with less or no income. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, alimony payments should not exceed 25% of the husband’s earnings. In the case of a monthly dividend, the aforementioned limit applies.
If the wife does not work, the court will determine the amount of alimony based on her age, educational qualifications, and ability to work. If the husband is incapacitated and unable to work while the wife is working, the court will award the husband alimony.
Under Michigan alimony regulations, the length of time you would pay spousal support is disputed, but a good rule of thumb is one-third of the marriage or around eight years in this situation. This is subject to change and depends on a variety of conditions, but it will give you a rough understanding of how spousal support works in Michigan.
The longer a marriage lasts, the more likely a judge may order alimony, which has an impact on the amount paid. When computing the score of the spouse requesting alimony, the programme used by Michigan judges assigns up to 30% of the available score to the length of the marriage.
No, from a legal standpoint, it makes no difference who files for divorce first in Michigan. However, filing first gives the initiating party the opportunity to ask the court for certain orders before your spouse is told of the divorce proceedings.