Spousal Support: What You Need to Know Before Getting a Divorce

June 30, 2014

Spousal Support and Divorce

If you’re getting a divorce in Ohio, you or your spouse may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal support is money paid by one spouse to the other either during or after the divorce process. Spousal support used to be known as alimony. The court awards spousal support to maintain a standard of living that both spouses were accustomed to during the marriage. Either spouse can be ordered by the court to pay spousal support to the other, as it is based on income rather than gender.

If you don’t have enough money to support yourself while you’re getting a divorce, you can ask for temporary spousal support. If the court makes a temporary spousal support order, it typically lasts until the divorce is over. When the divorce is over, the court will make a final spousal support order. Spousal support is also ordered in legal separations, which occur when a couple doesn’t end their marriage but lives apart and one spouse needs support from the other. 

Spousal support can last for an indefinite period, end on a specific date, or end when a specific event occurs, such as the remarriage or death of a recipient. When possible, courts prefer to specify an end date for spousal support. The judge may also maintain jurisdiction, or the right to make decisions about an existing reward, so that he or she can review the spousal support order at a later date and determine whether it should be continued, modified, or terminated.  

How the Court Determines a Spousal Support Award Amount 

There is no specific formula for calculating a spousal support award. The court uses its discretion and takes each couple’s particular situation into account. The court considers the following factors: 

  • Income from all sources
  • Earning abilities of the parties
  • Retirement benefits of the parties
  • Ages of each party and their physical, mental, and emotional condition
  • Duration of marriage
  • Parties’ standard of living during the marriage
  • Inappropriateness of a party to seek employment outside of the home due to caring for a child or children
  • Assets and liabilities of the parties
  • Contribution of a party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party
  • Cost of acquiring job experience, training, or education for the party seeking spousal support
  • Tax consequences that a spousal support award would have for each party
  • Lost earning capacity stemming from either party’s marital responsibilities
  • Any other fact that the court deems relevant 

Spousal support generally isn’t ordered if a couple was only married for a short period of time or the husband and wife had comparable incomes. A court is far more likely to order spousal support if a marriage lasted for many years, a spouse has a disability or health problem, there was a major difference between their incomes or financial resources, a spouse had to stay home to care for the children while the other spouse worked full-time to support the family, or a spouse worked to help put the other spouse through law school, medical school, etc. 

Typically, spousal support payments are withheld from a spouse’s wages and then paid to the state child support office, which then sends a check to the other spouse. Sometimes, a court may authorize a spouse to send the payments directly to the other spouse without having to go through the child support office. 

If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Dublin, Ohio with an in-depth understanding of spousal support, contact Edward F. Whipps & Associates. We are highly experienced in family, matrimonial, and domestic relations law. If you would like to set up an initial consultation, you may call us at (614) 398-4182 or toll-free at (877) 367-6544 to find a mutually convenient time.

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