How Much Spousal Support Will I Have to Pay?

August 9, 2016

spousal support

Estimating how much you can expect to pay in spousal support is an important part of preparing financially for your divorce. Arriving at an exact dollar amount is rarely possible, however, because each divorce presents unique factors, and the laws of Ohio do not specify a formula for calculating monthly or quarterly payments to a former spouse. The state also does not mandate that what used to be called alimony be included as part of a divorce agreement. 

The best way to figure out both whether you will need to make spousal support payments and how much any payments will be comes down to working closely with an empathetic, discreet, and experienced Ohio divorce attorney. The requirements for empathy and discretion cannot be overstated because planning appropriately for paying spousal support requires disclosing your entire employment, earnings, and investment history to your legal advisor. Experience also counts a great deal because awarding and calculating spousal support involves a great deal of legal analysis and negotiation. 

Will You Need to Pay Spousal Support? 

Only a spouse who will suffer financial hardship as a result of the end of his or her marriage has a strong claim to make for receiving spousal support. If your spouse earns an equal or higher salary, will remarry quickly after your divorce is finalized, or has means of support independent from the money you contributed to the partnership and household, you should not be required to pay alimony. A key part of the divorce process is requesting full disclosure of your soon-to-be ex’s finances. 

Understand the Alimony Calculation 

Spousal support is separate from child support. The payments should reflect the additional income the recipient requires to buy his or her own food, pay rent or make mortgage installments, and purchase necessitates like clothing and gas. Therefore, factors used to calculate alimony include 

  • Employability, which also accounts somewhat for physical and mental health
  • Current personal earnings from work and investments
  • Future earnings potential
  • Contributions to the other spouse’s success (e.g., paying for law school, co-founding a business)
  • Living situation (e.g., rent/mortgage payment, nonrelated housemates, cohabitation with a new partner who may become a spouse) 

The length of the marriage will also be considered, as will whether the man or woman who requested spousal support worked outside of the home for most or all the marriage. 

Consider Negotiation, Arbitration, or Mediation 

Both parties to a divorce should calculate ranges of and schedules for possible spousal support payments. The projected schedule should include both the frequency and the duration of payments, such as “monthly for five years or until the recipient remarries.” The results should then be included in pretrial filings to the family court judge hearing the divorce case. When that happens, the numbers from each party become available to the other and negotiations can commence. 

If parties to a divorce do not agree on what constitutes a fair or acceptable spousal support arrangement, the judge will impose one at trial. Pursuing an alternative dispute resolution could let both spouses reach a better outcome. Three approaches that have worked well for the clients of the divorce lawyers with Edward F. Whipps & Associates are 

  • Structured negotiations, which involve trading formal proposals and sitting down in groups with attorneys to work out areas of disagreement
  • Arbitration, which involves having each party present their best case to a neutral arbitrator and agreeing to be bound by that expert’s decision
  • Mediation, in which a mediator works with both spouses to highlight points of agreement and suggest solutions to unresolved issues 

Know That a Spousal Support Order Can Be Modified 

Life changes for either the person receiving spousal support or the individual making payments can provide grounds for asking a judge to modify the arrangement. Examples of such circumstances include 

  • Experiencing long-term unemployment
  • Moving in with a potential new spouse
  • Moving out of state
  • Suffering a disabling injury or illness
  • Entering bankruptcy 

Going back to court to have a judge sign off on a modified spousal support order is essential because informal, handshakes agreements only rarely remain in force when one person challenges them. If a court finds that a person has violated the original alimony agreement for any reason, it can seize property and bank accounts, garnish wages, and require immediate payment of the accrued balance with interest. 

You can learn more about spousal support and modifications to divorce orders by scheduling a consultation with an Edward F. Whipps & Associates lawyer. Contact us online or call (614) 461-6006 to make an appointment.

 

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