What are the factors the court considers for Spousal Support?
The past relations and conduct of the partiesNotwithstanding Michigan's no-fault divorce law, fault is still a consideration in
property division and spousal support. In Sparks v Sparks, 440 Mich 141, 485 NW2d 893
(1992), the Michigan Supreme Court said that fault is one of several relevant factors to be
considered in property division but that it is not the only factor.
The length of a marriageThe length of a marriage is often relevant to a claim of financial dependence and a
duty of continuing support. The longer the marriage, the stronger the claim for spousal
support. A spousal support award is most likely if one spouse of a long-term marriage has no career or marketable skills and will probably be reduced to a lower standard of living as a result of divorce.
Ability to WorkWhen determining spousal support, the courts place heavy emphasis on the abilities
of the parties to support themselves.
Source and Amount of Property AwardedProperty awards will be taken into account in a court's determination of spousal
support. However, one party should not be required to dissipate his or her property award to support himself or herself.
Ages of the PartiesAge is a factor in determining spousal support issues, especially with regard to its
effect on the parties' ability to support themselves.
Ability to PaySpousal support should not be derived as a portion of assets but according to a
The Present Situation of the PartiesThe present situation of the parties must also be taken into account.
NeedNeed is a compelling factor in the determination of spousal support. In Parrish v
Parrish, 138 Mich App 546, 361 NW2d 366 (1984), the propriety of a spousal support award that provided for the care of an 18-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy was in question.
HealthThe health of the parties is relevant, especially as it relates to ability to work and to
Prior Standard of LivingThe parties' station in life and standard of living establish a qualitative basis for
determining the extent of the support duty. Johnson v Johnson, 346 Mich 418, 78 NW2d 216 (1956) (spousal support necessary to ensure wife not deprived of her right to support at level commensurate with that which she would have enjoyed had marriage survived)
General Principles of EquityOnce a court obtains jurisdiction of a divorce matter, it may consider general
principles of equity in determining whether to award spousal support and the amount of
such an award. Parrish v Parrish, 138 Mich App 546, 361 NW2d 366 (1984).