The Family Law Leader

Types of Spousal Support in Michigan

There are three types of spousal support in Michigan. The first, often called alimony in gross, is actually a means of property division payable through either a lump-sum award or fixed periodic payments. It is non-modifiable and not subject to contingencies such as death of the recipient. It is sometimes used to make a property settlement more manageable and tax deductible to the payor. The tax laws regarding property settlements and deductibility of spousal support awards are complex; for that reason I often suggest that clients have the judgment reviewed by a tax professional before it is entered.

Permanent or long term spousal support is sometimes awarded in long-term marriages where there is great disparity in earning power or when one spouse is disabled. Even permanent spousal support most often ends when the parties retire, become eligible for Social Security and begin drawing pensions or other retirement benefits.

Courts more often grant shorter-term rehabilitative spousal support to give the payee spouse the opportunity to become more viable in the job market through enhanced job skills or further education. Rehabilitative spousal support can serve to help a spouse obtain full-time employment and self-sufficiency, to obtain a degree, and adjust to a lifestyle based on the new economic realities following divorce. If, for example, the parties have children in college or own an expensive home, temporary rehabilitative spousal support may be appropriate to bridge the gap until the home is sold, the children graduate from college, or living expenses are otherwise adjusted.

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