What is spousal support?Spousal support, long ago known as alimony, refers to payments made by one spouse to another to share the income of the higher earning spouse, help a spouse maintain his or her standard of living, or allow a spouse to obtain education or training to gain employment.
Can I receive or will I have to pay spousal support?Ohio law does not contain a formula to determine spousal support, as it does for child support. Instead, the judge will weigh the evidence presented on the eighteen (18) statutory factors and decide whether spousal support is appropriate and, if so, the amount. Those factors include:
- the length of your marriage
- your and your spouse’s income, or the earning ability of a spouse who is unemployed or underemployed
- the age and health of the parties
- standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- the assets and liabilities of each party, including retirement benefits and court-ordered payments
- each party’s education
- whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, training or earning ability
- whether one spouse gave up job or career opportunities to stay at home with their children
How long will I receive or have to pay spousal support?Spousal support will terminate upon the death of either party, unless the spousal support order provides otherwise. In many situations, spousal support will also end upon the remarriage of or cohabitation with a romantic partner by the spouse receiving the payments. Without an agreement between the parties, though, the judge will decide how long spousal support payments will be required. For short term marriages, typically no spousal support is required. For marriages that last more than a few years but less than twenty years, the judge may use one year of support for every three years of marriage as a baseline and adjust up or down depending on the evidence presented on the statutory factors. And for marriages for more than twenty years, the judge may order spousal support to be paid indefinitely.
Can spousal support be modified?If you receive or are ordered to pay spousal support, you may be able to request a modification. The first requirement is that your spousal support order contain language allowing the court to modify spousal support, known as a reservation of jurisdiction. Without this language, you cannot request a modification.
With a reservation of jurisdiction, a court may modify spousal support if there are specific reasons allowing modification stated in the spousal support order or if either party can prove that there has a been a substantial change in his or her circumstances that was not considered or foreseeable at the time of the spousal support order.
It is undisputed that spousal support is one of the most difficult issues in divorce cases. It is important that you know your rights and obtain the advice of experienced family law attorneys Elaine Buck or Jeffrey Fish, who have nearly 60 years of combined experienced helping people navigate spousal support. Elaine’s son, Thompson Buck, recently joined the firm as an associate.
Elaine and Jeff have been extremely involved in the development and promotion of Collaborative Family Law.
Both strongly believe that the collaborative family law process is a “better way to divorce” and, in 2015, merged their individual law practices with the goal of promoting collaborative family law. Both have served as President of the Central Ohio Academy of Collaborative Divorce Professionals and have been members for several years.
Elaine and Jeff are both certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as specialists in family relations law. Only 121 attorneys in Ohio have this certification.
Contact the lawyers at Buck & Fish Ltd. to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and learn your rights.