Has alimony become obsolete in two-income households?

On behalf of Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C. posted in divorce on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

According to recent data, the wage gap has narrowed dramatically since 1970. Women used to earn only 52% of their husbands’ income. The average has risen to 78 percent today. Women may also have higher incomes than their husbands. Although more progress toward wage equality is still needed, the progress has made its impact on society, including alimony arrangements in divorce.

Unlike child support, there is no set formula in Michigan for calculating alimony. Section 552.13 of Michigan law authorizes the court to require either party to pay alimony, but the details are typically decided on a case-by-case basis.

If one spouse is unable to work, for example, alimony might be awarded to help him or her finish a degree or acquire skills that would permit reentry into the job market. When spouses in a two-income household have roughly the same income, however, a court may be less inclined to find either party eligible for spousal support.

Since alimony has become obsolete in many two-income households, a postnuptial agreement may be a smart proactive step. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial contract is executed after marriage and used to define each spouse’s separate property. Defining specific assets as separate from the non-marital estate can be very useful for taking an inventory not only of individual ownership and financial health, but also any potential debts.

Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are often executed while couples are on good terms. That amicable approach makes the drafting process much easier. Our family law and divorce attorneys can help couples at all stages of a relationship arrive at contractual terms that truly reflect each spouse’s intentions.

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