The Court of Appeals released a published opinion addressing spousal support and attorney fees in divorce cases in Myland v Myland. In Myland, the trial court fashioned a spousal support award by implementing an arbitrary formula and without considering the relevant spousal support factors. The Court of Appeals reversed, explaining that, without considering the relevant factors, the trial court's spousal support award did not account for the needs and circumstances of the parties and was thus, contrary to law. Specifically, the COA reasoned that the wife's serious medical condition, physical inability to work, and substantial health care costs should have been considered when fashioning the spousal support award.
In Myland, the COA also concluded that the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to award attorney fees based on plaintiff's needs. The trial court declined to award attorney fees, proclaiming that it only awards attorney fees where a party has engaged in egregious conduct. The trial court's statement was contrary to law, given that MCR 3.206(C)(1) expressly provides for an award of fees based on a financial inability to defend a divorce action.
The bottom line is that this opinion cements the notion that a trial court presiding over a divorce action cannot completely disregard need in its spousal support or attorney fees analysis. So, when in need, Myland is a friend indeed!