Michigan Statutes give a court the right to modify the terms of spousal support where there has been a change in circumstances, so long as the parties have not already agreed in a Consent Judgment of Divorce, to make the terms of the spousal support non-modifiable. The Divorce Judgment should always address Spousal Support. If spousal support is awarded a party after a trial before the Court, the terms of the support awarded must be spelled out in the Judgment of Divorce, including the amount, length of time it is to be received, and what if anything besides the recipient’s death would cause it to cease, such as remarriage, or co-habitation with a member of the opposite sex. In such cases, if later on, there has been a significant change of circumstances for either the person paying the support, or the person receiving the support, they can file a motion with the court, and explain the reasons why they think spousal support should be modified. There are many factors that the court must consider before it decides whether or not the support should be raised, or lowered, as requested.
Even if the parties entered into a Consent Judgment of divorce, and came up with specific terms regarding spousal support, whether it consisted of them agreeing to there being no spousal support, or spousal support for a specific amount for a specific period of time, if the language of the Judgment does not meet the stringent requirements for waiving their statutory rights to petition to have those agreed upon terms modified, then one party or the other can bring a motion for modification of the terms, including increasing or decreasing the length and amount of support! This is important, because some people currently have Judgments of Divorce with terms involving Spousal Support that they think can’t be changed, when if fact they can, depending on whether the language of the Consent Divorce Judgment effectively waived their rights.
There are times when it is advisable to have the terms regarding Spousal Support modifiable, and times when it is best to make them non-modifiable. We will discuss the options with you, and help you determine what is in your best interests. Contact our Plymouth, MI divorce attorneys to schedule a consultation.