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How long does spousal support last in Michigan?

Unlike many other states, Michigan doesn't have a set formula for determining how long spousal support, or alimony, payments will be paid.

The purpose of spousal support is to balance the income and needs of each spouse. Depending on the situation, the ultimate goal of spousal support can be very different from one case to the next:

-- Spousal support may be temporary just to allow the financially dependent spouse to have a means of support until the divorce is final and assets are divided.

-- Short-term spousal support can be granted to a dependent spouse that's younger in order to grant him or her time to get an education, get established in a career and become self-supporting.

-- Long-term spousal support can be ordered in cases where the dependent spouse is older and the marriage was of long duration or when the dependent spouse has a disability that makes it impossible for him or her to become self-sufficient.

Judges take into consideration things like the couple's standard of living, the behavior of each spouse during the marriage and each spouse's educational background, and they aim to make things equitable. The goal is to leave neither spouse substantially better or worse off financially than the other.

A divorce decree can include things like the option to pay the entire lump-sum spousal support at once, with an agreement that it can't be modified later. Alternately, a divorce decree can include "triggering" events that end spousal support, even if it is supposed to be permanent. For example, remarriage could trigger the end of even "permanent" support.

So could cohabitation with another person when that includes sharing expenses and living as a couple. With an older spouse, you might secure an agreement that support is supposed to stop as soon as you begin collecting retirement and/or Social Security benefits.

It's very important to talk over your goals regarding spousal support with your divorce attorney before you start negotiating.

Source: Revised Statutes of 1846 (Excerpt) Divorce: Alimony; costs; termination, "Section 552.13," accessed Feb. 07, 2017

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