Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Oregon

In Oregon, alimony is called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” Spouses can agree to a certain amount of alimony, or the court may order it if an agreement can’t be reached.

Alimony is a regular payment one spouse makes to the other spouse to provide financial support during and/or after a divorce. In Oregon, alimony is called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” Spouses can agree to a certain amount of alimony, or the court may order it if an agreement can’t be reached. The court doesn’t consider whether anyone was at fault for the divorce when ordering alimony.

In Oregon, you can ask for temporary alimony as soon as the divorce action is filed and until you receive your final judgment. The court can also order that one spouse help to pay the other spouse’s divorce expenses, like attorney fees.

At the time the divorce becomes final, courts in Oregon can order three types of alimony: transitional spousal support, compensatory spousal support, and spousal maintenance.

Transitional Spousal Support

The purpose of transitional spousal support is to provide support to one spouse for a period of time so that spouse can go to school or receive training in order to earn more money and become self-supporting. When deciding how much transitional spousal support to order, courts will consider several factors, including:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the requesting spouse’s training and employment skills
  • the requesting spouse’s work experience
  • both spouses’ financial needs and resources
  • the effect spousal support will have on each spouse’s taxes
  • whether either spouse has custody of a child and/or pays child support, and
  • any other factors the that are appropriate to consider in making a fair order.

Compensatory Spousal Support

The purpose of compensatory spousal support is to reimburse a spouse for financial or personal support which allowed the other spouse to get training or education that contributed to his or her earning capacity. For example, a judge could order compensatory spousal support to a spouse who worked and supported the family during the marriage while the other spouse went to school. The court will consider the following factors in awarding this type of support:

  • the amount, nature and duration of the contribution
  • the length of the marriage
  • the earning abilities of both spouses
  • how much the contribution has already benefited the spouses financially during the marriage
  • the effect spousal support will have on each spouse’s taxes, and
  • any other factors the that are appropriate to consider in making a fair order.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is a payment by one spouse to the other for financial support. Spousal maintenance may be ordered for a set period of time or it may be ongoing. Spousal maintenance orders are often made when the marriage was long term and one of the spouses does not earn enough to be self-supporting. The factors the court will consider in ordering spousal maintenance are:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the ages of each spouse
  • the spouses’ physical, mental and emotional health
  • the standard of living during the marriage
  • each spouse’s incomes
  • the training and employment skills of the supported spouse
  • the work experience of the supported spouse
  • each spouse’s financial needs and resources
  • the effect spousal support will have on each spouse’s taxes
  • whether either spouse has custody of a child and/or pays child support, and
  • any other factors the that are appropriate to consider in making a fair order.
Modification and Termination of Alimony

If circumstances change after the order is made, a spouse can file a motion to ask the court to modify or terminate alimony. The court can modify or terminate it only if there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of one of the spouses, such as a significant change in income or expenses. If the order is for compensatory support, it is even more difficult to modify or terminate-- there must be a very substantial, unexpected, and involuntary change in the paying spouse’s earning ability.

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.

Sources

To read the spousal support laws in Oregon, see Chapter 107 of the Oregon statutes, sections 107.095(1)(a), 107.105, and 107.135 at http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/.

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