Alimony and spousal support are payments made to support a former spouse. Most attorneys use guidelines to estimate an alimony payment. However, Michigan alimony law allows for an evaluation of the needs of the parties in determining alimony or spousal support, something that alimony guidelines don’t do.
The most popular alimony guidelines take into consideration the age, education, length of marriage and income of the parties without consideration to the needs of the parties which may be significantly higher.
The law on alimony in Michigan and the needs of the parties
The legal authority for a court to award alimony is found in Michigan Compiled Laws 552.23; MCL 552.23; MSA 25.103 which authorizes a court to award alimony.
There are eleven factors taken into consideration when determining if Alimony in Michigan should be awarded. The eleven factors are as follows:
- The past relations and conduct of the parties.
- The length of the marriage.
- The ability of the parties to work.
- The source of and amount of property awarded to the parties.
- The age of the parties.
- The ability of the parties to pay alimony.
- The present situation of the parties.
- The needs of the parties.
- The health of the parties.
- The prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others.
Citing: Parish v. Parish 138 Mich. App. 546 (1984)
Alimony guidelines provide an easy framework to estimate an alimony award. However, careful consideration should be given in examining all of the alimony factors, especially, the needs of the parties in determining an alimony award.
How to determine the needs of the parties?
Identifying the parties monthly expenses is probably the best way to determine the needs of the parties when evaluating a Michigan alimony or spousal support case.
- What are your housing expenses? Housing expenses include rent, mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance, repairs, insurance, cleaning, and related expenses.
- What are your food expenses, such as meals for yourself and children?
- What are your medical expenses such as medical insurance, out of pocket costs, prescriptions vitamins and insurance?
- What are your automobile expenses such loan payments, insurance, registration, gas, oil and repairs?
- What are the expenses for the minor children such as religious education, lunch money, housing, grooming, books and similar expenses?
- What are your personal expenses such as grooming, cosmetics, tobacco, meals out, fitness club, vacations, hobbies, charitable expenses etc.?
- What are your financial obligations such as loans to others, child support, credit card installments?
- What are your business expenses such as professional fees, retirement, operating expenses?
- What are your insurance costs such as health, life or disability insurance?
- What are your recreational vehicle costs?
- What are your tax obligations?
- What are your pet expenses?
Alimony guidelines can only estimate the parties needs and Michigan alimony law authorizes a court to examine much more than the age of the parties, education of the parties, income of the parties and length of the parties marriage. The needs of the parties may in fact be the most important factor in determining alimony.
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By: Daniel Findling