Spousal support, alimony, and separate maintenance all refer to court-ordered settlement in which one party (husband or wife) makes a payment or payments to the other after divorce (or separation). Alimony, real and personal property division and child support are all determined before the divorce decree is entered. These determinations, as you can imagine, are a significant and oftentimes contentious aspect of divorce.
While Michigan is an equitable distribution state, the law encourages both parties to maintain the same quality of life post-divorce. Typically, the “breadwinner” of the household is ordered to pay alimony upon divorce if it is properly requested and granted. Alimony is not a given or an entitlement. It is up to the court, after careful consideration of income and 14 other factors including: length of the marriage, parties’ needs/health, a party’s fault in causing the divorce, age, and ability to work.
There is no surefire way to avoid having to pay alimony but a carefully drafted pre-nuptial agreement may help. Keeping in mind reasonableness and equity, a sound agreement before marriage is essential. If you’re contemplating marriage or divorce, give Great Lakes Legal Group a call.