Alimony (also called "spousal support" in Ohio) is a regular payment one spouse makes to the other spouse to provide financial support during and/or after a divorce. Spouses may agree to the amount and duration of spousal support, or the court may order it if the spouses can’t agree. In Ohio, courts can order temporary spousal support, which is spousal support paid after the divorce action is filed, but before there is a final divorce decree. The court can also award “permanent” spousal support, which is ordered at the time the final divorce decree is issued.
CALCULATING SPOUSAL SUPPORT
In Ohio, there are no set guideline calculations for courts to follow when deciding whether to order alimony or when determining the type, amount, manner, and duration of payments. The law requires that courts assume each spouse contributed equally to the marital income, for example, either by working outside of the home or by taking care of the home and/or children so that the other spouse could earn income. In addition, the law requires that courts consider the following factors:
- all sources of the spouses’ incomes, including from property divided in the divorce
- each spouse's earning ability (how much a person could earn based on education, skills, job history, and employment opportunities)
- the spouses' ages and health (physical, mental, and emotional)
- the spouses' retirement benefits
- the length of the marriage
- whether one spouse has custody of a minor child of the marriage and will be unable to work outside of the home as a result
- the standard of living during the marriage
- each spouse's education
- each spouse's assets and debts, including any payments the court ordered
- whether either spouse helped the other to get training, education, a professional degree, or increased income during the marriage
- the time and expense it will take for the spouse asking for support to receive education, training or job experience that will allow that spouse to obtain sufficient employment, if the spouse in fact seeks that education, training, experience, and employment
- whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker and has a decreased earning ability as a result
- how alimony will affect each spouse’s taxes, and
- any other factor the court finds to be relevant and fair to consider.
PAYMENT OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
After considering the factors above, if the court decides that a spousal support order is appropriate, the court may order that the payments be made in the form of real or personal property, or by paying an amount of money. The court can order that payments are made in one lump sum, or in installments over a period of time.
DURATION OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
- Temporary spousal support orders last only while the divorce action is pending. These orders end when the court makes the final divorce decree.
- Permanent spousal support orders may be short term or long term, depending on what the court finds is reasonable after weighing the factors.
Both types of spousal support orders terminate automatically if either party dies, unless the order specifically states otherwise.
MODIFICATION OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
After a spousal support order is made, the court can only modify the order if both of the following conditions exist:
- there's been a change of circumstances for either spouse, such as an involuntary increase or decrease in wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses, and
- there is a provision in the divorce decree that specifically states that the order can be modified.
TAXES ON SPOUSAL SUPPORT
In general, the spouse paying support can deduct the payments from income. For the spouse receiving support, the payments count as income and are taxable.