Most couples undergoing divorce hope to resolve their issues amicably without prolonged litigation. More than likely both parties want to move on with their life. Some issues they may face can range from child custody and support to spousal support or alimony. However, when it comes to alimony, the couple may have questions regarding who is obligated to pay it, what factors are considered, how much one will be ordered to pay, when, if at all, it should terminate, and how a subsequent new relationship will impact alimony payments.

Michigan residents may find it interesting to learn that alimony is gender-neutral meaning depending on the need factors, either the husband or the wife may be obligated to pay alimony. In Michigan, courts consider various factors when determining if alimony is necessary or not. Some factors include the standard of living during marriage, length of the marriage, age, health status, the ability to earn and work, present situation, and need of each party. Despite these factors, alimony is negotiable, and where possible parties can work together to determine the most equitable and fair amount.

However, remarriage or cohabitation can have an impact on existing spousal support. Alimony may need to be modified based on the new situation. In general, the definition of cohabitation varies from one state to another. But, courts will look at financial, social, living arrangements to determine cohabitation situations. In certain cases, cell phone records can be used to prove changes in living circumstances and challenge a decrease in alimony payments based on a substantial change in circumstances.

Law surrounding alimony can be confusing for parties who are not familiar with it. It is important to contact an experienced family law attorney to understand the nuances of spousal support, and discuss whether a modification to increase, decrease or terminate alimony payments is warranted.

Source: Huffington Post, “Cohabitation, the Termination of Alimony and Cell Phones,” Diane Danois, June 11, 2013