Will I receive alimony in my Michigan divorce?
Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, can provide a divorcing spouse with much need financial support during the transition to single life. Alimony used to be the norm in most divorces, but in the past decade courts have moved away from awarding spousal support as a matter of routine. Instead, Michigan courts will consider several factors to determine your right to receive spousal support as a part of your divorce.
Who May Receive Spousal Support
Spousal support may be awarded in one of two ways: you and your spouse can agree to spousal support or the court will order it. The court will issue spousal support on a case by case basis. If requested, a Michigan court will decide spousal support as a part of the property and debt division during your divorce. Spousal support is awarded as a means to ensure both parties are taken care of following a divorce. It may be ordered if one spouse’s share of property awarded is not enough to adequately support him or her.
Michigan judges will look to several factors to determine whether an award of spousal support is appropriate, including:
- Length of the marriage: The longer you and your spouse were wed, the more likely a court is to award spousal support. The length of your marriage is particularly important if one spouse does not have a career or job skills.
- The ability of each spouse to support him or herself: If one of the spouses is in poor health or does not possess strong job skills, or if their standard of living will significantly decline with a divorce, the court may award alimony.
- The ability of a spouse to pay alimony: The court will consider the financial ability of the payor spouse to satisfy an alimony award, taking into account ability to earn as well as current income.
These are just a few of the many factors a court will consider in electing to award alimony. Spousal support can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. Seeking spousal support is complex and divorcing spouses should consult with a Michigan spousal support attorney for assistance with their case.
Who will keep the family pet in a Michigan divorce?
Pets are an integral part of many families across Michigan. For some couples, determining who will get to keep the family pet is a central concern in the event of a divorce. Divorcing pet parents may be surprised to learn that in the state of Michigan, as well as most of the country, pets are not considered family members under the law. Instead, they are classified as property and will be awarded to a spouse under the laws of equitable distribution.
Recognizing the attachment of most pet owners to their beloved animals, the state of Alaska has taken a unique approach to ensuring pets are taken care of when their owners split. Alaska recently amended its divorce statute to require courts take into consideration the well-being of the animal. Even further, Alaskan courts are now authorized to assign joint custody of pets. The provision is truly the first of its kind and family law lawyers in Michigan are now watching to see whether the state could pass similar legislation.
Pets in a Michigan Divorce
Under current laws, if you get divorced in Michigan, your pet will be treated as property by the court. The court will award possession of the pet to one of the spouses and will not order joint custody. In determining who should keep a pet, the court could consider:
- Who purchased or adopted the pet;
- Who financially cared for the pet;
- Time spent with the pet;
- Who is responsible for taking care of the pet; and
- Whether there are children in the home who are attached to the pet.
Divorcing spouses are often better off attempting to decide issues of pet custody on their own. Your divorce attorney can assist you and your spouse in deciding who should keep the family pet. Alternatively, you and your spouse could reach a joint custody or visitation arrangement so that both of you can maintain your relationship with the pet. The court can review and approve of such an arrangement.
How will our property be divided during our divorce in Michigan?
Making the decision to file for divorce is never an easy one, and often a main concern of divorcing couples is how the family’s property will be divided. Family assets could include the marital home, retirement and pension plans, businesses, rental property, and more. Deciding who should get what is always a challenge, and if the divorce is contentious, it can get all the more acrimonious. Having an experienced Michigan property division lawyer will prove vital to ensure your interests are represented to the fullest extent.
Equitable Distribution is Not Always Equal
In Michigan, marital property is divided according to the rules of equitable distribution. Equal distribution is the division of community property in a fair manner. Fair does not necessarily translate to a fifty-fifty split. Rather, a court will consider several factors to reach a fair division, including:
- Length of the marriage;
- Needs of each party;
- Needs of the children;
- Earning powers of each party;
- Source of the property;
- Where the funds for property acquisition came from; and
- The cause of the divorce, including the fault of either party.
This list is not exhaustive and a court can consider other factors that it finds relevant under the circumstances.
Separate Property vs. Marital Property
Not all property will be subject to equitable division. A vital step towards dividing your family property will be determining what property is marital, and subject to the laws of equitable distribution, and what should be considered separate property. In the event of a divorce, separate property will go back to its individual owner. Marital property includes any assets or property acquired during the marriage, which may include homes, cars, furniture, artwork, savings accounts, retirement accounts, and more. Separate property, on the other hand, is property earned or received before the marriage or an inheritance received during the marriage, but kept in a separate account. Property division is a complex and high-stakes matter, so consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.