Alimony is a buzzword tinged with emotion. The mere mention of the dreaded word can throw well-planned divorce negotiations into disarray. However, it doesn't have to be scary, and it doesn't have to be emotionally charged.
Alimony was enacted to limit the unfair effects a divorce may have on a dependent spouse. Alimony accomplishes this by supplying temporary or in rare circumstances, permanent income to a nonwage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. The essential justification is that one spouse gave up a career to stay at home and care for the children and maintain the house. The alimony calculation can be boiled down to ensure that the spouse enjoys a roughly similar standard of living as she or he had during the marriage.
Michigan courts have wide discretion in determining appropriate alimony payments. Therefore, an experienced and creative attorney is critical in presenting your case. The courts consider a multitude of factors such as:
- Length of time to become self-sufficient
- Standard of living during marriage
- Length of marriage
- Ability of the paying spouse to support the recipient spouse and herself or himself
- The age and physical condition; the emotional state; and financial status of the former spouses
However, no single factor is determinative. Therefore, your attorney should present as many factors as possible to enforce your claim.
Alimony payments end if you remarry, become self-sufficient or the allotted time for payment ends. Your ex-spouse is permitted to go to court to seek a modification of orders if any of these factors occurs. An order is what a judge issues to finalize a divorce. If you become self-sufficient, like landing your dream job, then your ex-spouse may have alimony payments terminated or reduced. Alimony cannot replace your income; its purpose is to support you until you can support yourself. If you fail to become self-sufficient by the time the judicial order ends, then the alimony payment ceases and your spouse owes you no additional duties.
Divorce is hard. Calculating and haggling over alimony makes things even harder. Putting a price tag on marriage is nearly impossible. An experienced divorce attorney can help ensure you get any alimony payment you are entitled to.