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Will I Have to Pay My Spouse?: Understanding the 11 Factors to Navigating Alimony

October 10, 2023

When considering a divorce, most people dread the thought of paying support to an ex-spouse in the wake of a dissolved marriage. Conversely, a spouse may dread the thought of not receiving enough support from their former economic partner. The truth is that spousal support is raised as an issue in nearly every case. Some cases warrant a comprehensive analysis of the issue while in others, the issue can be dismissed rather quickly. In all cases, it’s critical to have a skilled attorney assist you with navigating the various pitfalls.

In its simplest form, alimony can be explained as a balance between what a spouse needs versus what the opposing spouse is able to pay. To assist with finding this equilibrium, most practitioners consider a software program that is designed to produce guidelines. The guidelines act as a tool to begin the discussion, which is then further refined after considering the eleven factors derived from caselaw:

  1. The past relations and conduct of the parties;
  2. The length of the marriage;
  3. The abilities of the parties to work;
  4. The source and amount of property awarded to the parties;
  5. The parties’ ages;
  6. The abilities of the parties to pay alimony;
  7. The present situation of the parties;
  8. The needs of the parties;
  9. The parties’ health;
  10. The prior standard of living of the parties; and
  11. The general principles of equity.

It’s important to understand that while the courts are bound by considering the factors above, the parties are free to negotiate without using judicial resources. One of the more influential variables in the negotiation phase is the amount of property awarded to the parties. It is well established that a property award can shift the framework of a monthly obligation and duration of payments. However, one party should not be required to dissipate a property award to support themselves.

While the concept of support may sound dreadful, it can be a useful tool to amicably untangle you from your spouse. Let the Family Law Team at Varnum assist you with a tailored strategy that best suits your circumstances.

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