One of the most common questions I get is about spousal support. Am I eligible? If so, how much will I get? Will I have to pay spousal support? If so, how much and for how long? While it would be easy to say, "There's a calculation and all you have to do is input the numbers and you can calculate it," that just is not the case.
First off, what is spousal support?
Spousal support is the payment made from one spouse to another either during the marriage or after. You may also hear it referred to as spousal maintenance or as alimony. Either the husband or the wife can be ordered to pay it but it's not always included in the divorce settlement. As with other divorce laws, the way that spousal support is determined varies from state to state and even varies by local jurisdicition.
The factors contributing to the determination of spousal support in Ohio are as follows:
- income of the parties
- relative earnings power of the parties
- age and emotional/physical/mental health
- retirement benefits of the parties
- how long the parties were married
- ability to work outside the home when child care is necessary
- standard of living established during the marriage
- eduactional attainment of each of the parties
- overall, financial picture (assets/liabilities)
- contribution of each party toward the other's education and/or professional achievements
- time and expense for the party seeking spousal support to aquire necessary skills/education to be employable
- tax impact of spousal support
- lost income production capacity of either party due to party's marital responsibilities
- any other fact that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.
How long does spousal support last?
Again, it depends. All of the factors listed above are considered when determining how long one will receive spousal support. It is best to consult with an attorney regarding what they see in your local court. Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum or over time. It can even be permanent in some areas. These laws do change, though, so again, I recommend speaking to your local family law attorney.
Can spousal support change after it's awarded?
The short answer is maybe. In many cases, spousal support is modifiable if there is a change in circumstances. If you want to have it modified, you will have to file paperwork with the court again, though.
This a concern that regularly arises during mediation sessions. The fact of the matter is that life changes and we really do not know what the future will hold. When I am doing divorce financial planning work with clients, we review ways to protect spousal support so that they don't have to worry about it whether or not they will have it in the future.
For these and other questions, you can always contact me via the link below to schedule a no-cost 30-minute phone consultation.