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Can the Length of My Marriage Affect My Divorce?

Divorce is a long, complicated, and emotional process, even when both parties agree that they’re fundamentally incompatible. As a result, people are often overwhelmed by all the details they need to consider when initiating their divorce.

For instance, you might be wondering whether the length of time you were married entitles you to additional financial support or consideration. Today, the Gucciardo Family Law team tackles one of our client’s most common questions: can the length of my marriage affect my Michigan divorce?

Michigan Divorce Laws

Michigan has what is known as the ten-year rule. After 10 years, the ex-spouse is eligible to claim up to half of the other’s Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and military pension. This rule may also apply to other areas, such as railroad benefits, although that is not guaranteed.

Does the 10-Year Rule Affect Alimony in Michigan?

No, the 10-year rule does not affect alimony. However, a judge might take into consideration the length of the marriage and whether one spouse has a significantly higher income.

For example, suppose that two people divorce after 20 years of marriage. One member of this couple was a stay-at-home parent for most of that time, while the other worked. In this case, the judge is more likely to award alimony and financial support to the non-working parent since they have a lower earning potential.

What Does Affect Alimony in Michigan?

Michigan divorce laws don’t have a hard-and-fast rule about alimony — it’s usually at the discretion of the judge or worked out in mediation. Despite this, it is true that the longer you are married, the higher the chance you will either receive or pay alimony. Judges rarely award alimony in short marriages (those lasting under five years).

Alimony is usually determined by comparing the current income and earning potential of both spouses. If one partner makes substantially more, they may pay the other so that the lower-earning partner’s standard of living isn’t unfairly diminished by the divorce.

Conditions for Spousal Support in Michigan

There isn’t a calculator for alimony, but a judge will consider the following:

  • Conduct of both parties and their past relations
  • Length of the union
  • The ability of each party to work
  • Age of both parties
  • Which property and assets are awarded to each party
  • Needs and present situation of both parties
  • The health of each party
  • Standard of living for both parties prior to the divorce

A judge may also consider the general principle of equity when determining an alimony schedule. This includes both the amount that one party pays and how long they have to pay it. It could be as short as a year or as long as a lifetime.

Custody of minor children isn’t considered when determining alimony in Michigan. Child support handles these and other related matters.

Don’t Go Through Divorce Without a Skilled Michigan Divorce Lawyer

Even if you are eligible to receive your ex-spouse’s benefits or alimony due to the length of your marriage, you have a better chance of obtaining a fair settlement when you’re represented by an experienced family law attorney. Contact Gucciardo Family Law today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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