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Michigan Spousal support, previously referred to as alimony, is money paid to one’s former spouse for his or her support. The Court considers the following factors in awarding support:
- The parties relationship and conduct during the marriage as well as fault in the breakdown of the marriage;
- The length of the marriage. A long-term marriage is especially relevant where one spouse does not have a career or marketable skills and his or her standard of living may be reduced because of the divorce;
- The ability of the parties to work;
- The source 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;
- The ages of the parties;
- The 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
(5) availability of employment;
- The current situation and needs of the parties;
- The parties’ health is relevant to the ability to work and to the personal needs of the spouse seeking support;
- The prior standard of living of the parties;
- Whether either party is responsible for the support of others; and
- The contributions to the joint estate by the parties.
A Judgment of Divorce must either award spousal support, expressly reserve the question, or state that neither party is entitled to spousal support. Spousal support may be modified if there is a change in circumstances that warrants modification, unless the judgment indicates that spousal support is non-modifiable. Spousal support is usually paid through the office of the Friend of the Court, but may be paid directly if the parties agree.
Spousal support is paid through a Uniform Spousal Support Order (USSO).