Am I Eligible to Receive Spousal Support in My Divorce?

If you are considering divorce in Michigan or have already started the divorce process, you are likely thinking about spousal support if you were not the primary earner in the family. It is common for one spouse to receive maintenance or support-also known in some states as alimony-from the other spouse. While there is no specific formula under Michigan law that courts use to calculate the amount of spousal support that is appropriate in any given case, there are numerous factors that the court takes into consideration when determining the amount. However, before a divorce court can decide on the amount of spousal support, it first must determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate.

Here you might be wondering, "Am I eligible to receive spousal support in my Michigan divorce?" The answer to this question is more complex than it might seem. We will walk you through the ways in which you may be eligible to receive maintenance from your spouse as part of the divorce judgment.

Did You Enter Into a Premarital Agreement or Postnuptial Agreement?

If you entered into a premarital agreement or a postnuptial agreement with your spouse, and that agreement concerns information about spousal support, that may be sufficient for the court to determine whether spousal maintenance should be paid. For example, your agreement may stipulate that you will receive a specific amount of maintenance or support in the event of a divorce. Or, alternatively, the agreement might say that you waive your right to receive spousal support in the event of divorce.

If you are happy with the terms of the agreement and believe that they should be enforced, as long as the other party does not argue that the spousal support term is unenforceable, the court typically will abide by the terms of a premarital agreement or postnuptial agreement. However, if you waived your right to receive spousal support in the agreement and believe that it should not be enforced, you should speak with a Michigan divorce lawyer about contesting the agreement on one of the grounds available to show that it is unenforceable.

Determining Whether Spousal Support Should be Awarded When There is No Prior Agreement

If there is no prior agreement concerning spousal support between the parties, and the parties still can come to an agreement about spousal support as part of a divorce settlement. Your Michigan divorce attorney can negotiate with the other party to come up with a settlement concerning property, spousal support, and other matters pertaining to the divorce.

When a settlement is not possible, the court will need to determine whether spousal support is appropriate. The court will consider some of the following statutory factors:

  • Length of the marriage;

  • Past conduct of the parties;

  • Ability for each of the parties to be employed;

  • Property division as part of the divorce;

  • Ages of the parties;

  • Ability for the other spouse to pay support;

  • Needs of the parties;

  • Health of the parties;

  • Standard of living established during the marriage;

  • Each party's contribution to the marriage;

  • Fault in the divorce; and

  • Cohabitation (and its impact on a party's financial situation).

Seek Advice from a Michigan Divorce Attorney

If you need assistance seeking spousal support, a Michigan divorce lawyer can begin working on your case today. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to speak with an advocate at our firm.