Law Offices




Wayne Oakland Macomb Counties

It is not simple to determine whether you qualify for spousal support or how much it should be. If you think you might qualify for spousal support and want to ask for it in your divorce, you may want to talk to a lawyer. If you intend to ask for spousal support, you can use the Do-It-Yourself Divorce to begin your divorce. But, the Do-It-Yourself Divorce will not calculate spousal support for you. You may need to hire a lawyer to help you ask the court to calculate and order spousal support and finish your divorce.

If you do use our Do-It-Yourself Motion to Change or Get Child Support, you will have three options for spousal support in your Judgment of Divorce:

Spousal support can be “barred” for both parties. This means the court won’t award any spousal support and neither spouse can come back later and ask for spousal support.

Spousal support can be reserved. This means the court won’t make a decision about spousal support when it enters your Judgment of Divorce. Either spouse can later come back to court and ask to be awarded spousal support.

Spousal support can be awarded when your Judgment of Divorce is entered. If you choose this option you may want to hire a lawyer to represent you. You cannot use the Do-It-Yourself Divorce to calculate spousal support. The Do-It-Yourself Divorce will not produce a Uniform Spousal Support Order. You can use the “Find a Lawyer” section of this website to look for someone who may be able to help you.

Whenever spousal support is awarded, the court must enter a special order called a Uniform Spousal Support Order (USSO). The USSO states the terms of the spousal support award. This includes how much will be paid, for how long, and how payments are made.

Periodic spousal support payments are generally taxable income to the person receiving the support and deductible for the person paying. “Lump-sum” spousal support is actually part of the property division and may be taxed differently than periodic spousal support payments.

Your Judgment of Divorce must include the right language for spousal support to be taxed properly. This is not simple. If spousal support is an issue in your divorce, you may want to talk to a lawyer to get the best possible result.

If you or your spouse asks the court for spousal support, it will consider the following:

Periodic spousal support can be temporary or permanent. Temporary spousal support can give a person a chance to get a degree or gain job skills. It can last for a specific number of months or years, or until a specific event. The event could be the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the spouse getting the spousal support, or when a specific amount of support has been paid.

A court is more likely to award “permanent” alimony in long-term marriages. Especially if the spouse getting the support is older than 60, has little education or work experience, and has little or no income. Even if spousal support is called “permanent support”, the payments may end at retirement when the parties start sharing in pension or retirement benefits.

Either spouse can ask for a change in spousal support unless the parties agreed in their Judgment of Divorce not to allow changes. The court will normally only change spousal support when there are new facts for the court to consider or when one spouse’s circumstances have changed.

 Spousal Support is money paid to support a spouse or former spouse, formerly called “alimony”. 

There is not a perfect legal formula that will tell you whether or not you will get spousal support or how much you will get. Spousal support is decided on a case-by-case basis, with varying scenerios with each unique case. The court will decide about spousal support as part of the property,assets, as well as the debt division in your divorce.

The court uses spousal support to make sure both people are taken care of after a divorce. Spousal support may be ordered if one spouse’s property award is not enough to support him or her properly. It may also be ordered if one spouse will be financially worse off after the divorce and the other party can pay some money to make up the difference.

Spousal support is not simple. If you want to ask for spousal support you may want to talk to a lawyer. If you need a lawyer and are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. You can use the "Find a Lawyer" section on this page to look for legal help in your area. Free legal assessment link.

You and Your Spouse Can Agree on Spousal Support

Spousal support is part of the overall property division in a divorce. You and your spouse can try to work out a property settlement yourselves. This includes whether one spouse will pay spousal support and how much it will be.

Sometimes a court orders spousal support to be paid all at once. This is called “lump-sum” spousal support. Sometimes it orders spousal support to be paid over time, in monthly or yearly payments. This is called "periodic” spousal support.

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Using Our Do-It-Yourself Motion to Change or Get Child Support if You Want Spousal Support.


The Uniform Spousal Support Order (USSO)

If You and Your Spouse Can’t Agree, the Court Will Decide

There is no specific formula for spousal support, but there are factors that are taken into consideration to help assess what the spousal support / alimony should be.

How each spouse behaved during your marriage. The court will look at how you treated each other and who was at fault in the breakdown of the marriage.

How long you were married. The longer you’ve been married, the more likely the court is to award spousal support. This is most important if one spouse doesn’t have a career or good job skills.

Whether each spouse can work. The court is more likely to award spousal support to a party who can’t work or is unlikely to find work. Spousal support might be short term to give the person time to finish school or gain job skills.

How much property each person is getting in the divorce and whether the property is “liquid.” The court divides the parties' property and debts in every divorce case. When deciding whether one person needs spousal support, courts consider the type and amount of property each party is getting. A person is normally not expected to use their property award to pay everyday living expenses. So, it may be appropriate for the court to award spousal support to a spouse who is getting mostly non-cash assets.

How old you and your spouse are. An older person who has not worked during the marriage is more likely to need spousal support. But if the other spouse is retired and living on a fixed income, that will weigh against awarding spousal support. Especially if the spouse who would get the spousal support is younger than retirement age.

Whether either spouse can pay spousal support. The court will balance how much the paying spouse can earn with the other spouse’s ability to support her or himself.

Your current living situation. The court will consider things like your earning potential, career prospects, and issues involving your children.

The needs of each spouse. The court will consider the current and future needs of the spouse who may receive spousal support compared to their age, health and ability to work.

The health of each spouse. A spouse's health is especially relevant if it affects his or her ability to work and meet personal needs.

The prior standard of living of the spouses and whether either spouse has other people to support. Your standard of living during your marriage is a starting point for deciding whether either spouse should pay spousal support. In some cases, a person has the right to continue to enjoy the same quality of life they had during the marriage. If divorce means one spouse will stay at the marital standard of living and the other won’t, the court may use spousal support to even things out.

Fairness. The court may consider what’s fair in your situation.

The court will make a decision about spousal support based on the above factors and anything else that may be important. It does not have to give the same weight to each factor. It must make findings on each relevant factor if one party requests spousal support.