Myland v. Myland (2010) The Imprecise Nature of Spousal Support in Michigan

If you are contemplating divorce, you may already know that child support in Michigan is usually determined by a formula. You plug in the income of each party, the number of overnights awarded to each parent and certain specific expenses (such as health insurance), and the formula gives you a specific dollar amount that one party has to pay to the other each month.

Spousal support (formerly known as alimony) is different. In the case of Myland v. Myland, the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the application of "rigid and arbitrary formulas" in determining spousal support, saying that the amount of support must be decided on the unique facts of each case.

What are the factors the court may use to determine support amounts?

Even though there is no formula for spousal support, there are a number of considerations that the court must address in making an award. The most important factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The ages of both parties
  • The ability of each party to work and earn income
  • Each party's health
  • The parties' needs
  • The source and amount of marital property awarded to each party
  • The prior standard of living of both parties
  • The ability to pay support, and whether either party is responsible for the support of third parties

How long does an award of spousal support last?

Spousal support can be temporary or permanent. If it is temporary, it may end on a specific occurrence or a predetermined date (i.e. death, remarriage or five years whichever shall first occur.) If it is permanent, it usually ends on the death or remarriage of the recipient. In either situation, it may be reviewed if there is a change of circumstances depending upon the language contained in the Judgment of Divorce.

If you live in the metropolitan Detroit area and believe that you are entitled to spousal support, or if you are concerned that your spouse will ask for support as part of your divorce, consult The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins. Attorney Robbins, with more than 30 years of experience in family law, offers seasoned advice on how a judge may interpret Michigan law in your personal circumstances.