Updated: Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012, 12:26 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012, 5:18 PM EST
Grand Rapids, Mich. (WOTV) - The modern term for what used to be called alimony is "spousal support". One of the most common misconceptions we get at DAWN, nearly every day, is that spousal support is no longer allowed. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, spousal support is now more relevant than ever, given the disparities in many couple's incomes in our modern economy.
It used to be that spousal support was paid only to women, and paid only by men. However, with more women earning more while their husbands earn less, the tide may be turning. There is nothing in Michigan law that says that either spouse is exempt from receiving, or being awarded to pay, spousal support. The law is gender neutral.
Michigan law provides that a judge may award spousal support that is "just and reasonable" to either party, considering the ability of the parties to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case. This means that the court has very broad direction to order spousal support, as long as one party needs it, and the other has the ability to pay. There are no hard and fast rules for the judge to apply - only general guidelines, such as the length of the marriage, ages and health of the parties, and their respective incomes.
So, if anybody tells you that spousal support has been abolished, that is just plain wrong. Remember, it can be awarded to either husband or wife, for less than a year or for a lifetime. It all depends on the facts of the case.