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Spousal Support Obligation Can Be Partially Based on the Income of a New Spouse

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

On May 13, 2014, in an unpublished opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a payor’s spousal support may be increased on the basis of a new spouse’s income. In Sweeny v Sweeny (Docket No. 312169), plaintiff had remarried after spousal support was initially granted to his ex-wife. Plaintiff was appealing an order for him to pay $700 per month of spousal support, arguing that because of his decreased income, he could not afford to pay that much.

The Trial Court, however, in reaching that amount, had considered the fact that plaintiff had a new wife, who made $40,000 per year, and who helped pay for their household expenses. The Court of Appeals held that the Trial Court was correct in considering the new wife’s income when determining spousal support; however, the Court of Appeals remanded the case for reconsideration of how much of the new wife’s income should be attributed to plaintiff. The Trial Court had attributed the new wife’s entire income to plaintiff, but the Court of Appeals held that this was improper because the wife likely had her own expenses to pay for with her income and likely increased their overall household expenses. Thus, some, but not all, of her income could be attributed to plaintiff.

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