Spousal Support Factors - Show me the money!

This is the second part of a

three-part series.

Who doesn't love getting paid for something they did years ago, like getting married? Spousal support can give you that feeling of love even when you're not in love anymore.

In my last column (Detroit Legal News March 6, 2012), I looked at various factors affecting spousal support, including the past relations and the conduct of parties, the length of the marriage, the ability of parties to work, and the source and amount of property awarded to the parties.

The next spousal support factor to be examined is "the ages of the parties." Obviously the older you are the less likely you are going to be able to work and support yourself, or the less of a chance you are going to be able to fork over cash each month to your ex (unless you're Hugh Hefner or Larry King of course). A young wife with an old husband has a better chance of maintaining employment than an old wife with an old husband, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the trophy wife won't get spousal support, as the court has to take into account various other factors as well (think back to article one for starters).

"The ability of the parties to pay spousal support" is factor No. 6. If you're raking in serious dough each month then you're more apt to be able to divert some of those funds into your ex's shoe or classic car account. While you may not be one of them, there are still quite a few people, both men and women, who are earning a substantial living at the present time. The rest of us are likely burdened by debt, working too much for too little, and facing financial pressure we seemingly can't control. For the regular folk, they may not be able to afford to pay any spousal support, unless they want to start living with their parents again. Further, the court can look at more than just what we normally consider income, i.e. a paycheck, as income can include items such as your retirement pensions, Social Security payments, or disability payments.

The court must also look at "the present situation of the parties" in determining a spousal support award. Did your ex move out because she just couldn't stand your towels on the floor anymore? Because of your messy habits, is she now facing myriad bills on her own, like rent, utilities and credit cards? If one of the spouses in a marriage is disabled and unlikely to find work, yet the other is doing well in her or his career, this factors in well.

The last factor to be examined this go 'round is "the needs of the parties." If your wife was a stay-at-home mom or doesn't have any real marketable skills, she actually needs spousal support more than a wife who has maintained a career alongside yours during the marriage. You can double up on some of the other factors and say that because of the poor health of one spouse, and the crippling medical bills he or she faces, that's another consideration for needing support.

The amount of cash flow and your individual ability to work compared to your ex will help determine if you have to continue to share the fruits of your labor with the former Mr. or Mrs. If you're the one receiving support, you don't necessarily mind having those ties to your past -- now if only you could get paid for all those other annoying habits you put up with.

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Marie Matyjaszek is an associate attorney at the Law Office of Robert Matyjaszek, PLLC, Jackson, Michigan. Her blog site is: http://legalbling.blogspot.com. She can be reached at (517) 787-0351 or by emailing her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.

Published: Wed, Apr 4, 2012

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