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Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, may be awarded in some Michigan divorces. The law does not set forth a formula for calculating it; rather, it authorizes courts to make an award when they deem it proper.

Divorcing spouses may choose to agree on the issue of spousal support. If your valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement contains relevant provisions, the court will likely enforce them. Otherwise, you will have to litigate this matter and have the judge make a final decision.

Support determinations are often complicated

As with many other divorce matters, judges aim to achieve a fair result for both spouses. Obviously, fairness depends a great deal on the specific circumstances of the two individuals and the history of their marriage. For this reason, support issues can involve a lot of complexity.

Financial issues judges consider

Courts tend to consider certain factors when deciding on a fair alimony award. These include the spouses' relative financial positions, the length of the marriage and the contributions of each party.

In terms of financial positions, judges tend to award support when one spouse ends up substantially poorer than the other. However, just because one spouse makes more than the other does not mean he or she can also afford to make alimony payments. Another issue to consider is the reason why one spouse makes less and whether he or she can realistically increase that income. For example, if one spouse gave up career opportunities to raise the children and care for the household for 30 years and then gets divorced at the age of 60, in most cases judges will not expect him or her to recover financially and are more likely to award alimony.

Fault can be a factor

Other factors include the parties' health and education. In some cases, courts may award a marital asset to one spouse, rather than splitting it up, and make up the difference with a support award to the other spouse. Courts also look at the spouses' behavior and whether it led to the divorce.

Each case is different

Only consulting a qualified lawyer can tell you whether you, specifically, are likely to have to pay spousal support. Your attorney can tell you what to expect and work on your behalf to help you get a fair result.

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