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Modifications of Spousal Support

Family Law Attorney in Michigan Assisting Clients with Spousal Support Modifications

Going through a divorce in Michigan is complicated and anxiety-inducing enough on its own without having to worry about handling modifications at a later date. However, circumstances can change after a divorce order that can affect spousal support (or alimony). When the circumstances of either party changes—either the payor spouse or the recipient spouse—the court can modify spousal support payments. Modifications to spousal maintenance typically occur under MCL 552.28, which allows for the revision or alteration of a judgment for alimony. Keep in mind, however, that parties can agree in the divorce judgment that a spousal support award is non-modifiable, making modification a much more difficult matter.

Do you have questions about modifying your spousal support order? You should discuss your options with a Michigan divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Michigan Law Concerning Spousal Support Modification

When one party wants to modify a spousal support order, she or he likely will rely upon the language contained within MCL 552.28 concerning revisions or alterations to judgments for alimony. That law states:

“On petition of either party, after a judgment for alimony or other allowance for either party or a child . . . the court may revise and alter the judgment, respecting the amount or payment of the alimony or allowance . . . .”

Under MCL 552.607(h), a party who is making spousal maintenance payments can request a modification “due to a change in circumstances.” For example, if the payor spouse loses his or her job and needs to rely on public assistance, or if the payor spouse cannot work due to an injury and begins receiving worker’s compensation payment, the court may decide it is appropriate to modify a spousal support order.

When is Michigan Spousal Support Non-Modifiable?

There are situations in which Michigan spousal support orders are non-modifiable. In almost all cases where the spousal support order is non-modifiable, the parties agreed (during the divorce process) that the award would be non-modifiable. The court cannot make this decision on its own. To be sure, the parties getting divorced must agree to a non-modifiable award.

Michigan law on this issue has arisen in a number of cases, most notably Staple v. Staple. In this case, the court makes two important points clarifying the modifiability of spousal support (also known as alimony):

  • Parties to an alimony agreement can obtain a modification at a later date unless the parties’ agreement expressly waives the right of modification; and
  • To be enforceable, an agreement waiving the right of modification must “clearly and unambiguously set forth that the parties (1) forgo their statutory right to petition the court for modification and (2) agree that the alimony provision is final, binding, and nonmodifiable.”

Contact a Michigan Spousal Support Attorney

Did you recently experience a change in circumstances such that you believe your spousal support order should be modified? Unless there was an express waiver of modifiability, an experienced Michigan spousal support lawyer can help with your case. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski to get started.

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