Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support If I’m Unemployed in Michigan?
At times, Michigan family court judges will order spousal support during divorce proceedings. This support is designed to make sure that each spouse has the resources they need to pay for basic necessities. It can also be ordered if there is a substantial gap in income between you and your ex-spouse. In this instance, spousal support is designed to close the gap.
While spousal support is supposed to protect the party that has fewer financial resources, it can negatively impact your financial wellbeing. This is especially true if you become unemployed. Do you still have to pay spousal support while unemployed? Below, we address this increasingly common issue and explain how you may be able to seek relief.
How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Michigan?
Unlike child support, the state of Michigan does not have a formula for calculating spousal support. The decision is based on the discretion of the judge that presides over your case. When determining if you will pay spousal support and how much you must provide, the judge will consider factors such as:
- The age of you and your spouse
- The length of your marriage
- The behavior of both parties
- Whether each individual can work
- Your ability to pay spousal support
- The health and needs of both parties
- The health of your ex-spouse and the length of your marriage are two of the biggest factors that impact spousal support.
For instance, if your ex-spouse stayed at home to care for minor children during a 15-year marriage, then a judge is more likely to award support.
Can I Just Stop Paying Spousal Support If I Lost My Job?
If a judge instructed you to pay spousal support during your divorce hearing, it is a binding court order. Even if you have become unemployed since the hearing, you cannot simply stop making payments. Doing so is a serious offense that will compound the issues that you are already facing.
Consequences of Stopping Payments
In the state of Michigan, failing to pay your court-ordered spousal support is a felony. This offense is punishable by a $2,000 fine, up to four years in prison, or both. Instead of stopping payments, you will need to reach out to your ex-spouse or the courts.
If you and your ex-spouse have open lines of communication, you may be able to reach an informal agreement while you seek another job.
However, this agreement is not binding. The ex-spouse could still seek legal retribution if you make an incomplete payment or fail to provide any funds at all. Therefore, it is best to seek legal counsel.
Modifying Spousal Support Payments in Michigan
The state of Michigan does give you the opportunity to request a modification for your spousal support payments. The court will take the specifics of your current situation into account, including the fact that you are now unemployed.
While you can file this request on your own, navigating the complex court process can be challenging. Instead, reach out to an experienced family legal team like the Gucciardo Law Firm, PLLC. We will assess your case and help you seek an adjustment or removal of your spousal support order.
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