When a marriage no longer works, there’s a big possibility that it will end up in a divorce. Spousal support, among others, is one issue that can be brought up during divorce proceedings. What is the importance of spousal support, and how do Michigan courts decide whether to grant it or not?
Spousal support, or alimony, is a legal obligation of providing financial assistance to a person by a former spouse before or after a divorce. It could help that person especially if he/she is financially-dependent on the other. Unlike in child support cases, where there are definite guidelines for determining how much payment will be made, spousal support petitions have to be evaluated first on a case-to-case basis before deciding if either of the parties involved owes the other support money or not. There is a broad range of factors considered in Michigan courts that influence final judgment on spousal support cases. They most often include:
• The conduct of each spouse during the marriage and the length of marriage. Spousal support may not be awarded to a person who has been unfaithful to his/her marital partner nor has a history of substance abuse during the marriage. Also, there is a higher chance that a judge will award alimony if the marriage had been a long-term one (ten years or more).
• The age, health, needs, assets, and ability of each spouse to work. Although properties acquired during the marriage will be divided between the parties undergoing a divorce, these assets have to be evaluated since it is possible that the properties awarded to a person cannot cover living expenses. A person’s health is also taken into consideration as it may influence his/her ability to work and ability to meet his/her needs. Age is also a deciding factor as older people might find it difficult to get back to work again.
• The capacity of the spouse who is asked for spousal support to deliver the payment. The person from whom alimony is requested will also be evaluated on his ability to provide support, since he/she also has to attend to his/her needs.
• The living conditions of both parties during marriage and the present. The judge will consider the standard of living the parties had during marriage and may use it as a basis for awarding spousal support. The present living conditions of each spouse, like his/her earning capability and whether he/she is living with somebody else or has people to support, will also be taken into account.
• The principles of equity. Fairness will be exercised in determining the amount of alimony to be paid and how long it will be paid.
Spousal support can either be temporary or permanent, and the length of time a person has to pay can also be determined by the factors stated above and other reasons as well. In any case, petitions for spousal support are complex matters and need the help of experienced attorneys who are knowledgeable with every aspect of divorce cases. Van Tubergen, Treutler & Hayes is a respected law firm which has served and earned the trust of its clients. If you are looking for a divorce lawyer in West Michigan with dependable expertise in family law, contact us now at 616-377-0087. You can also request for a free initial consultation here.