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DIVORCE 19: Factors for deciding whether to award spousal support.

The Michigan statute governing spousal support favors a case-by-case approach to determining spousal support.

Upon entry of a judgment of divorce or separate maintenance, if the estate and effects awarded to either party are insufficient for the suitable support and maintenance of either party and any children of the marriage who are committed to the care and custody of either party, the court may also award to either party the part of the real and personal estate of either party and spousal support out of the real and personal estate, to be paid to either party in gross or otherwise as the court considers just and reasonable, after considering the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case. [MCL 552.23(1).]

The object in awarding spousal support is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties so that neither will be impoverished; spousal support is to be based on what is just and reasonable under the circumstances of the case.

A trial court should take into account the following factors when deciding whether to award spousal support:

(1) the past relations and conduct of the parties,

(2) the length of the marriage,

(3) the abilities of the parties to work,

(4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties,

(5) the parties’ ages,

(6) the abilities of the parties to pay alimony,

(7) the present situation of the parties,

(8) the needs of the parties,

(9) the parties’ health,

(10) the prior standard of living and whether either is responsible for the support of others,

(11) contributions of the parties to the joint estate,

(12) a party’s fault in causing the divorce,

(13) the effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status, and

(14) general principles of equity.

Were you just served with divorce papers? Do you believe that divorce is the only option left for your marriage?

In order to protect your parental and financial rights, it is important to have an experienced and understanding divorce attorney by your side at every step of the way. At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys have the skill and experience you need to address all family law issues that may arise during your divorce.

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FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

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FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

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