The determination of spousal support in Michigan is based upon a number of factors. These factors are spelled out time and time again in family court and include the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties, the present situation and needs of the parties, the health of the parties, and the standard of living that the parties are accustomed to. But in this economy, an emerging factor has been predominant: each party’s ABILITY to earn income.
More often than not the ability to earn income has been railroaded by a sluggish working sector and a lack of available jobs. There are many people with college degrees working in restaurants and retail establishments for the simple fact that they cannot find a career in their particular field. When this occurs, the courts are right to account for the economy and decrease one parties ability to earn when deciding on an award of spousal support.
However, this is not how the facts of a recent Court of Appeals case went. This court recently remanded a case, stating that the trial court should have considered the defendant-wife’s un-exercised ability to earn in its spousal support award.
Here, the wife chose to work part time as a nurse rather than accepting the full time position that is continuously available at her hospital. This defendant was essentially told that she had a duty to exercise her ability to earn income because the option was available to her. The court found the award of spousal support un-equitable in light of the rest of the property agreement and the availability for her to earn more money.
This is important to anyone considering a divorce who hopes to receive or not pay spousal support. Make sure you are either exercising your full ability to earn money, or that the court considers any un-exercised ability to earn money before an agreement on spousal support is signed.
If you have any questions on spousal support please contact David Lutz at (248) 624-5500 and visit our website www.ambrosefamilylawattorney.com