Spousal support, often called alimony, can be a complicated part of the divorce or dissolution process, especially after a lengthy marriage or when there is a significant disparity in the parties’ earning potential.
A spouse may be entitled to receive spousal support in Ohio. There is a specific statute that addresses the factors that a court must consider in determining whether spousal support is appropriate and warranted — Ohio Revised Code § 3105.18. These factors include:
- The parties’ ages
- The length of the marriage
- The parties’ standard of living during the marriage
- The parties’ income
- Each party’s relative earning capacity
- If either party is the primary caregiver of any minor children, whether they should work outside the home
- Each party’s level of education
- Whether either party contributed to the training or education of the other
- Each party’s retirement benefits
Deciding the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support can become one of the most complex and contentious aspects of a divorce or dissolution. Ohio does not have spousal support guidelines, although individual judges and magistrates often have formulas that they follow. A final determination will need to consider the parties’ earning capacities, future income that the party seeking support may earn from assets distributed as part of the divorce, the potential retirement age of the party paying support, the circumstances in which support can be modified and more. It is fair to say that the longer the marriage, the longer the spousal support duration will be. One of the issues in a spousal support case is often the earning ability of a spouse who has not been employed outside the home for an extensive period of time or who is lacking in education or job skills. Often a vocational expert will be used in such circumstances.
Until January 1, 2019, spousal support was taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible to the payer. Shifting the tax burden from the taxpayer in a higher tax bracket to one in a lower tax bracket often allowed the family to have more money after the marriage termination. Spousal support is no longer tax-deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. Thus, spousal support must now be paid from net income. This can result in less money overall to the family.
Our office has extensive experience in dealing with complex spousal support cases, whether they involve negotiation, the collaborative process, mediation or litigation. In these cases, it is important for parties to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney advocating for them. Our office works to find solutions that meet our clients’ needs, regardless of the setting.