Financially Savvy Southeast Michigan Divorce Lawyer
I often explain to my clients that the laws governing divorce are mostly general rules, and there are an infinite number of potential exceptions. When it comes to spousal support — still frequently called alimony by many — judges have a tremendous amount of discretion within those laws.
If spousal support is likely to be a contested issue in your Wayne County or Oakland County divorce, I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation. Over the past three decades, I have achieved positive outcomes for men and women in numerous complex cases that have gone to trial, and applied strong negotiating skills to resolve many others.
Many Factors Can Be Considered in an Alimony Dispute
Unlike child support, for which there is a relatively straightforward legal formula and limited need or room for negotiation, arriving at an acceptable spousal support/alimony arrangement can be a substantial challenge.
The list of factors the courts can consider in ordering spousal support is substantial. Some of the most common and pivotal are:
- Length of your marriage
- The age and health of both you and your divorcing spouse
- Any significant differences in your respective incomes and earning capacities
Evaluating Needs, Plus Amount, Duration and Timing
The amount of monthly spousal support — if any — is one key issue to be decided. How long the supporting ex-spouse must pay the other is equally or more important. In some cases, you may decide to settle this issue with a lump-sum payment or consider it in light of other financial priorities as we seek a favorable overall outcome.
You will also need to consider whether to lock in an agreement will be reached by which spousal support will be paid in specific monthly amounts for a specific number of months or years, without possibility of modification (change). For marriages that are, for example, 15 years old, most spouses reach an agreement that is firm - sort of carved in stone. The recipient (usually the wife, simply because men statistically earn more) knows that she will receive an unchanging sum of money for a particular amount of time (unless she remarries); and there is some security in that. Likewise, the payer knows that his ex-spouse will not be able to come back later to ask for more money or to ask for support for a longer time period.
On the other hand, these are volatile economic times. If a payer agrees to "carve the agreement in stone," he will have an obligation which he cannot get out of, even if he loses his job. I always discuss this issue very carefully with the client; and we weigh the issues as they pertain to his or her individual circumstances and likely future.
Another important aspect of spousal support is that it is tax deductible by the payer and must be declared as income by the recipient. This is true whether or not the payer itemizes taxes. (There is a special place to deduct it on the tax form). This is very important for both parties to keep in mind during settlement negotiations, because they need to plan on how much "real" income they will have in the future.
Whether you believe you should receive alimony or want to minimize this obligation, I am well equipped to look at all the factors in order to assess and build your case. In most situations, it is in everyone's best interests to avoid taking the issue all the way to court, but it is still essential to be well prepared with facts in your favor for direct negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or trial.