Facing divorce raises many questions. Will life be better after the divorce? Perhaps. How will you survive, financially? Might you be “better off” staying if you cannot ‘make it’ on your own?
Many of our divorce clients inquire about “Spousal Support,” or “Alimony.” “How does it work?” “Am I entitled to Spousal Support?” “How much will I be ordered to pay?”
“Spousal Support” is payment to a spouse for financial support after – and possibly during – a divorce. Ohio law provides guidelines for determining Spousal Support, but they are merely that, guidelines. In other words, there is no specific formula, and no way to guarantee what a court would order.
How property is being divided in the divorce certainly might be relevant to the determination of Spousal Support, but they are technically separate awards. Spousal Support is “any payment or payments to be made to a spouse or former spouse … for sustenance and … support …” (Ohio Revised Code §3105.18, emphasis added.)
Spousal Support may be ordered to be paid as a ‘lump sum,’ or in payments over time. As with anything in a divorce, spouses can agree on the Spousal Support to be paid – subject to the approval of the Court. If the parties cannot agree, the court can order Spousal Support based upon evidence presented in a hearing or trial. Unless the parties (and the Court) specifically state that the Spousal Support award is non-modifiable, an award of Spousal Support can be modified later due to certain changes in a spouse’s circumstances.
The following factors are considered by the court in determining whether spousal support is “appropriate and reasonable” (paraphrased from O.R.C. 3105.18(C)(1)):
(a) each spouse’s income – from all sources;
(b) each spouse’s earning ability (based on education, skills, job history, and employment opportunities);
(c) the spouses’ ages and health;
(d) the spouses’ retirement benefits;
(e) the length of the marriage;
(f) whether one spouse has custody of a minor child of the marriage and cannot work outside the home because caring for the child;
(g) the standard of living during the marriage;
(h) each spouse’s education;
(i) each spouse’s assets and debts – including any court-ordered payments;
(j) whether either spouse helped the other spouse get training, education, a professional degree, or increased income during the marriage;
(k) the time and expense it will take for the spouse seeking spousal support to get the necessary education, training, or job experience that will allow them to obtain sufficient employment;
(l) whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker and has a decreased earning ability as a result;
(m) tax implications; and
(n) any other factor the court finds to be relevant and fair to consider
If financial considerations are influencing your decision on whether to seek a divorce, you are welcome to contact Kurt Law Office. Mention this article in the Women’s Journal for a free consultation.