When you divorce and you have not worked a long time or if your job does not pay enough to sustain you financially, you may be eligible for spousal support. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment you receive from your spouse to help you meet your expenses. Spousal support is apart from child support. Here are some questions you may have about spousal support.
When Do You Get Spousal Support?
You will not automatically receive spousal support when you get a divorce. You have to win it in your settlement to you by the court. The court will also decide how long you will receive it and the amount you receive. Keep in mind that even if you and your spouse, or your attorneys, negotiate an amount, the court still has to approve the payment to make sure the payment is fair to everyone.
Is There a Formula for Spousal Support?
Courts in Michigan determined there is no one-size-fits-all determination for spousal support. The court will look at each couple's circumstances individually and make a determination as to what is best in each individual situation. Judges do have the option to use a generally acceptable range to determine an amount in straightforward cases.
Can the Amount of Spousal Support Change?
The only change in spousal support occurs when a major shift in circumstances occurs on either your or your spouse's part. This could include if one of you lost your job, if one of you became disabled or too sick to work for a period of time, or if one of you decides to get married again.
In Michigan, either of you may petition the court for a change in the payments. When you petition the court, you will serve your former spouse with a copy of the petition. He or she will have the chance to respond to the petition. If one of you does not agree with the petition for modification, you will have to schedule a hearing and present your evidence to show the need for modification.
How Long Do Spousal Support Payments Last?
Judges can order spousal support paid in a variety of ways. You could receive a lump-sum payment, in which you get all the support at one time in a single payment. You could also receive periodic payments over time, typically each month.
Periodic spousal support can be either temporary or permanent. Judges often award temporary spousal support to provide you with time to get into a better financial situation. Temporary support can last for months, or even years, and provides you with the time to get a degree, find a better paying job, or learn a new skill to aid you in getting a more lucrative position.
Permanent spousal support is typically paid when the marriage was long-term or to someone with very little education and work experience.
What If My Former Spouse Will Not Make the Payments?
If your former spouse ceases spousal support payments, or if the payments never began, you can go back to court to enter a motion for contempt and request payment.
What About Taxes?
Taxes are a part of spousal support just as they are for any other form of income or expense. Spousal support payments are tax deductible for the spouse who makes the payments. The receiving spouse must pay taxes on the taxable income. If you pay or receive a lump sum form of spousal support, this is part of property division and is taxed differently.
If you need assistance with divorce or another family law matter, please contact us at Brown Raduazo & Hilderley PLLC.