Alimony in Michigan is available to one spouse that is financially disadvantaged from a divorce. But, the Michigan divorce laws can be complicated and it is important to learn about them before trying to claim spousal support in court.

This is a helpful guide to allow you to learn more about how alimony works in this state.

What Is Spousal Support Michigan?

Spousal support is often called alimony in Michigan and it is something that comes into play when there is a divorce. The purpose of alimony is that one partner will receive financial support from the other when they split up and have their own lives. The purpose of spousal support is to help a partner who is going to be in financial need after the split.

Therefore, alimony is a financial payment from a self-sufficient spouse to another spouse who is going to be in financial need as a result of the divorce. The payments are there to help them get on their feet and help to maintain the same standard of living that they normally have.

What Types of Alimony is Available in Michigan?

There are four types of alimony you should be aware of if you live in Michigan.

These are:

  • Temporary
  • Periodic
  • Permanent
  • Alimony in gross

If you receive temporary spousal support, this is for during the divorce proceedings and to support you through this process. This must be a request made when you are filing for divorce and a judge will look at the circumstances. Temporary spousal support can also go by the name of ‘status quo’ payments.

Just as the name suggests, periodic alimony is an award made for a certain period of time. A spouse will make regular payments to their other spouse and the hope is that they can eventually become self-supporting.

There are going to be some cases where a spouse will not be in a position to be financially independent after divorce. In this situation, a judge will award permanent spousal support. For instance, someone’s age, health or education may affect them from making a living and being self-sufficient.

Then there is lump-sum or alimony in gross. This is when a financial award is given in one big payment. This is instead of receiving regular installments. It can also be in the form of property rather than money. The judge will make sure that an award is going to work for both parties and make sure that the payment is suitable.

Are There Qualifications for Receiving Spousal Support?

There are no real qualifications for receiving spousal support. The main relationship that has to exist is that one spouse is going to be put at a financial disadvantage from the divorce. The other spouse is going to be in a situation where they are able to help with this due to what they had in the marriage.

Often, there are misconceptions when it comes to spousal support. Namely, a lot of people assume that only wives can receive spousal support from their husbands. However, this is not true.

Either spouse is able to file for spousal support and the case will be carefully considered by a judge. You just have to ensure that you say you need financial support and this will be taken seriously.

Is There a Set Formula for Deciding on Spousal Support?

Often, people assume there is a formula for judges to calculate spousal support. Indeed, there is a formula for child support in Michigan. So, people assume that they are going to be the same. However, this is not how it works in the state. Instead, a judge has a lot of freedom and discretion when it comes to calculating alimony and how long it is going to last.

There are numerous factors that are going to help a judge make up their minds. For example, a judge is going to study what the needs of each spouse are and how alimony will help. In particular, the financial situation of each party will be important, as well as if they are able to work.

Does Standard of Living Matter for Alimony Awards?

The judge is going to take a lot of things into account before they make their decision on alimony payments. Indeed, the standard of living of the spouses is going to be one important factor they study. The couple will have a certain standard of living from their marriage and the judge wants to make sure that both are able to enjoy this when they break up.

The spouse that is dependent should be able to enjoy the same standard of living. Thus, a judge may award a certain amount of money based on this standard of living when it comes to alimony.

How Long Will Spousal Support in Michigan Last?

It is difficult to say how long alimony in Michigan is going to last. Namely, this is because each case is going to be different. The duration you can expect will depend on a variety of factors and even the judge that is sitting on the case. So, before a hearing, it is going to be difficult to estimate how long a spouse will receive alimony for.

There are a number of factors that a judge is going to look at to determine the duration. This can include how long the marriage lasted. The needs of the partners will be a factor, as well as their age, health and what their contributions to the estate have been. A judge will also consider whether a spouse is likely to become self-sufficient in the future.

There are a number of circumstances when spousal support will end. Often, this will be when the partner receiving spousal support remarries. Entering into a new relationship relieves their former spouse of their obligations. Another situation is where there is a death of one of the spouses.

There are other circumstances when spousal support will end in Michigan. If the spouse receiving the money earns a degree and is able to gain employment and make a living themselves, the other spouse will no longer have to support them.

Does the Length of Marriage Matter for Alimony?

It is important to realize that there are no obligations you must fulfill before you qualify for alimony. In other words, you do not have to be with your spouse for a certain number of years before alimony will be an option. Instead, it can be something that is awarded one year after marriage or 20 years later.

The only time a judge is really going to consider the length of the marriage is when they are choosing spousal support payments and how long they should last. For instance, it is likely that someone who was in a long-term marriage will need more financial support after a divorce. They could be older and not have been in education for a while, which would make it difficult for them to find a job.

How Will a Person Pay Spousal Support?

Often, spousal support is going to be paid in installments and these will be on a regular basis. The Friend of the Court, which is a family court in Michigan, is going to be responsible for overseeing the payments of spousal support. Namely, they will ensure that people are paying the amount that has been set by a previous court.

The spousal support payments are often withholding orders to the employer. This means that the employer is going to be in charge of dealing with spousal support. The payroll will take this into account and it will come from the paycheck of the paying spouse. From here, the payments will go to the other spouse.

What Happens if a Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?

It is important to remember that spousal support orders must be followed by the spouse. The Friend of the Court is going to ensure that every spouse pays the amount they should. The recipient can inform the Friend of the Court that they are not receiving their money. Professionals will be able to assist them.

If a spouse is found to be breaching the order, the Family of the Court can set a hearing. This is going to make sure that the spouse is brought forward and has to explain why they have not been paying.

There can be severe penalties for not complying with the spousal support order. This can include contempt of court and you will have to pay the money to the other spouse. It is best to always comply in the first place and you are not going to face punishment.

What Is the Punishment for Contempt in Michigan?

You do not want to be found guilty of contempt in Michigan for not paying spousal support. The punishments for this crime can be severe and impact on your quality of life. For example, there can be financial penalties for not paying alimony.

Not only will this include paying the money you owe, but it will also mean paying more on top of this. This can include interest on those payments.

There can also be other penalties, such as the restriction of a license. This can include a ban on your driver’s license or even having your professional license taken away for a certain period of time. Wages can be taken, as well as money seized from bank accounts. Contempt in Michigan can even result in a jail sentence.

Is It Possible To Modify Alimony Payments?

It is possible to achieve a modification of spousal support payments. This can happen in a number of circumstances and if it is necessary for the parties. Once spousal support has been arranged in Michigan, a lot of people assume that that is the end of the matter. However, this is not always the case.

One thing to remember is that you can waive the right to change spouse support. In other words, you can waive the right for change in the original order and this is going to be binding. Thus, you will not be able to achieve a modification in the future even if you think that it would be better.

Can There Be Termination of Michigan Spousal Support?

Some judges will award spousal support indefinitely. In other words, there is not an end date for when installments will cease to the other spouse. However, there are some circumstances where alimony in Michigan can be terminated.

For example, spousal support is going to stop if one of the parties dies. Alternatively, there can be termination if one of the spouses remarries. This can also be the case if the recipient cohabits with a new partner and this installment is no longer necessary.

Will Infidelity Affect Spousal Support?

It is important to note that Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that it does not matter what led to the divorce or who exhibited bad behavior in the marriage. A lot of people worry that cheating on their partner is going to have an effect on their divorce and receiving or giving alimony, but this won’t happen.

Therefore, if a person is unfaithful in a marriage, this does not mean that he or she will have to pay more alimony. In addition, if there is infidelity by one partner, this is not going to have an effect on the amount of spousal support they receive either.

What Are the Tax Alimony Laws in Michigan?

A lot of people want to know if they are paying alimony in Michigan, can they enjoy tax deductions on this amount. Well, if the divorce was before December 31, 2018, the answer is going to be yes. You can deduct the amount you pay for alimony every year on your tax returns. Thus, you can enjoy some type of financial benefit from this arrangement.

However, the laws on this have now changed. This means that if you are going to get a divorce after 2018, this is not going to be something you can take advantage of. If you are a paying spouse, you cannot enjoy a tax deduction. Therefore, you can no longer enjoy zero tax credit.

In addition, the person that is receiving the spousal support does not have to report the amount they receive as income. Thus, they are going to be benefiting greatly from receiving spousal support. They are not going to have to pay any tax on the alimony and they can enjoy it all.


There is a lot to unpack when it comes to alimony in Michigan, from who is going to get this spousal support to how long the payments will last.

Let’s take a moment to summarize everything we cover in this guide:

  • You will often hear people refer to alimony as spousal support and they mean the same thing in Michigan.
  • Alimony is a discussion held during the divorce process and it allows one partner to receive financial support from the other.
  • Spousal support is to help with financial requirements and expenses after a couple has split up.
  • Michigan alimony laws means that one spouse should be sufficient and be able to afford payments to another.
  • There are four types of alimony; temporary, periodic, permanent and alimony in gross. Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce proceedings. Periodic alimony is made for a certain amount of time until the partner is self-supporting. Permanent spousal support is for someone that will not be able to become self-sufficient. Alimony in gross is where one partner received a big lump sum instead of regular payments.
  • A husband or wife can file for spousal support and they have an equal opportunity to claim alimony. One spouse should be at a financial disadvantage in order to claim spousal support.
  • There is no set formula for alimony and judges can use their discretion to award money. Standard of living is taken into account by judges, as this will be necessary to understand payment amounts.
  • The judge will decide on the duration of spousal support, ranging from permanent to only a few months.
  • Alimony can end if someone dies, a partner remarries or enters into a new relationship.
  • The length of a marriage is not one of the requirements for spousal support in Michigan.
  • It is common for alimony to be paid in installments on a regular basis and this is through withholding orders to the employer.
  • A spouse that is not paying their spousal support is not complying with the judge’s order and this will have consequences, including a charge of contempt. Contempt can mean that a spouse faces financial penalties, revocation of licenses and even a jail sentence.
  • The modification of alimony payments is possible if it is necessary for one of the parties.
  • Infidelity is not one of the Michigan spousal support factors and it does not impact on alimony payments.
  • The law has changed and now you cannot enjoy a tax deduction when you pay spousal support. Conversely, a person receiving alimony does not have to report this amount of money as their income.

Michigan divorce laws allow a spouse to receive alimony if it is necessary for their circumstances. The judges have a lot of control as to who can enjoy spousal support and in what situations. This allows the best outcome to be reached for everyone.

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