Alimony/Spousal Support

Alimony & Spousal Support Attorneys Located in Canton, Michigan

I. Overview

Spousal support is awarded by a Court or the parties may agree that it should be paid. Sometimes an alimony award is for lifetime (or until remarriage), but more usually, it is a temporary order. Alimony is a sum of money usually paid by one spouse to another spouse for the support and maintenance. Alimony is always modifiable unless you give up your statutory right and make it non-modifiable.

II. Factors considered by the Court

There are 11 relevant factors to be considered by the Court in determining alimony/spousal support. Sparks vs. Sparks, 440 Mich 141, 458 NW2d 893 (1992); Beason v Beason, 435 Mich 791, 460 NW2d 207 (1990); Parrish v Parrish, 138 Mich App 546,361 NW2d 366 (1984); and McLain v McLain, 108 Mich App 166, 171-172, 310 NW2d 316 (1981). In Ianitelli v Ianitelli, 191 Mich App 641, 502 NW2d 691 (1993), it was held that the trial court should make specific findings of fact regarding those factors that are relevant to a particular case. The following are factors that the court considers when determining whether alimony should be awarded:

1. The past relations and conduct of the parties.
2. The length of the marriage.
3. The ability of the parties to work.
4. The source and amount of property awarded to the parties.
5. The age of the parties
6. The ability of the parties to pay alimony
7. The present situation of the parties
8. The needs of the parties
9. The health of the parties
10. The prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others.
11. General principles of equity.

III. Types of Alimony and Modification

Generally, if alimony is not granted, the Judgment of Divorce will either expressly reserve the question of alimony or will state that neither party is entitled to alimony. If regular or “periodic alimony” is granted in the Judgment of Divorce, that alimony award is modifiable at any time, based upon a change in circumstances of the parties. This means that in the future, alimony might be raised, lowered, or terminated. If the court awards regular or periodic alimony, those monies are usually taxable to the recipient, and deductible by the payer. The words “payment until death” (or similar words) must be part of the alimony clause, if the payments are to be considered as taxable alimony. If you are awarded this kind of alimony, your spouse will not be able to discharge the obligation in a bankruptcy action. Alimony in Gross is another kind of periodic payment that is not really support, but rather is an installment payment of a property settlement. This type of payment is not taxable to the recipient, is not deductible by the payer, and is not modifiable. However, because it is not “support,” it might be subject to being discharged in bankruptcy. This type of alimony is expressed as an amount certain. There will be no qualifying clauses such as “payable until remarriage”. The court will look to the intent of the parties to determine the nature of the alimony.

IV. Tax Consequences

If the court awards regular or periodic alimony, those monies are usually taxable to the recipient, and deductible by the payer. Your attorney may answer your questions about the many tax consequences and restrictions in regard to alimony and Alimony in Gross or may refer you to an accountant. Tax laws and their interpretation change regularly, as well as State laws and their interpretations. Therefore, your attorney cannot guarantee any tax consequences resulting from your divorce proceedings and the Judgment of Divorce.

V. Payment of Alimony

Unless the parties opt out, alimony will be paid through the MISDU. MISDU will keep an accurate record of these payments. If the FOC office is involved, they will assist after the Judgment of Divorce is entered to enforce the terms of the Judgment. An Order to Show Cause Why the Payer Should not be held in Contempt of Court is used to enforce payment of regular or periodic alimony. It is more difficult to enforce payment of Alimony in Gross, and if this becomes a problem, you will want to ask us to explain your options to you; 734.927.9782.