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Are stay-at-home spouses entitled to alimony?

Following the birth of a child, many couples may consider the value of one of the spouses remaining at home to care for the new addition. Where a family may have enjoyed dual income, a decision to stay at home will undoubtedly require a sacrifice on the part of both the parties. In many cases, however, when one spouse decides to quit their job, the couple may not have considered all the implications of making this decision and all the consequences that follow should the marriage fall apart.

Many people may erroneously believe that because a spouse voluntarily left their job to be a homemaker and raise children, they will be entitled to alimony should divorce later occur. However, the trend in recent times across the US has been to move away from permanent alimony awards.

In Michigan, courts take into consideration various factors when determining the amount of alimony to award a spouse. These factors include the employability and earning potential of each party, their health status and age and how long the couple was married at the time divorce papers were filed.

In some cases, the couple may have a prenuptial agreement in place which outlines how much spousal maintenance will be given and whether it will be permanent or temporary. However, in order for the terms of a prenuptial agreement to be fair and equitable, it is very important for both parties to have their own legal counsel who can look at the document. Additionally, those couples who do not wish to draft a prenuptial agreement may later consider a post-nuptial agreement which details alimony amounts.

Regardless of whether a couple wants a pre- or postnuptial agreement, one thing is for sure, simply because one spouse decides to leave a well-paying job to raise children does not automatically entitle that person to spousal maintenance. For anyone interested in learning more about alimony or drafting pre- and postnuptial agreements, it may helpful for them to contact a family law attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Deciding To Become A Stay-At-Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale," Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014

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The Smith Law Offices, P.C.
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