How much spousal support will I get?

If your spouse is the primary earner, you're probably very concerned about how you're going to make ends meet after your divorce. Can you afford to stay in the house? Can you cover all of your bills? Will you have to get another job?

In fact, it's one of the most common questions I get - is there alimony in Ohio? Am I eligible? How much spousal support will I get? How long will I get it for?

It's also one of the most emotionally charged topics we deal with in divorce. For the one who needs alimony, they are depending on it to maintain their standard of living. On the flip side, do you really want to depend on your ex after your divorce is final?

If you are the primary earner, you're probably wondering if you'll have to pay spousal support. If so, how much and for how long? It would be easy to say, "The state provides a simple calculation." In Ohio, that isn't the case. Because there is no formula, it's a very gray area that is negotiated in every case.

First off, what is spousal support (or alimony)?

Spousal support is financial support paid from one spouse to the other. It's also called spousal maintenance or alimony. We use the words interchangeably in this post. (Note: There are some states in which these words are not interchangeable. For example, in Pennsylvania spousal support refers to temporary support while the divorce is in process. Alimony refers to the financial support paid from one spouse to the other after the divorce is final.)

Either the husband or the wife can be ordered to pay it but it's not always included in the divorce settlement. In fact, in some states, it's very uncommon. As with other divorce laws, the way that spousal support is determined varies from state to state and even varies by local jurisdiction. 

Divorce Alimony Rules in Ohio

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
  • the standard of living established during the marriage
  • educational attainment of each of the parties
  • overall, financial picture (assets/liabilities)
  • the contribution of each party toward the other's education and/or professional achievements
  • time and expense for the party seeking spousal support to acquire 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

You can see that there are a lot of factors involved in awarding an amount. Your divorce financial analyst can help you to determine what would be a reasonable request.

Common Questions About Spousal Support in Ohio

How long does spousal support last in Ohio?

Again, it depends. According to the divorce alimony rules in Ohio, all of the factors listed above are considered when determining how long one will receive 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?

According to the divorce alimony rules in Ohio, the short answer is maybe. The ability to modify to spousal support is negotiated just like the amount and duration. In many cases, spousal support is modifiable if there is a change in circumstances. If you want to have it modified, you'll have to file paperwork with the court.

This a concern that often comes up when I'm facilitating a mediation. The fact of the matter is that life changes and we really don't know what the future will hold. When I'm doing divorce financial planning work with clients, I discuss ways to protect spousal support so that my clients don't have to worry about whether or not they'll have it in the future.

Can I get spousal support before my divorce is finalized?

You may be eligible for temporary support prior to finalizing your divorce. If you are going through mediation to settle your case then you can discuss the issue up in mediation. If you're going through the court, you can petition the court for temporary support. That doesn't mean that it will be awarded but it can be.

Is spousal support taxable?

In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated the tax deduction for those paying spousal support. As a result, for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018 spousal support is no longer taxable to the recipient. If your divorce was final prior to the end of 2018, the spousal support is still taxable to the recipient and deductible for the payor.

If there's no calculator, how is spousal support determined if my case goes to trial?

If your case goes to trial, the judge has quite a bit of discretion regarding if spousal support will be awarded. The judge can also determine how much, how long, and whether or not it will be modifiable. An attorney who regularly practices family law in your local court will be best able to advise you on what to expect. That said, you really never know. You give up any control you had when your case goes to trial.

That's why I am such a proponent of mediation. Using mediation to negotiate your settlement gives you the greatest control over the process. When you are in mediation, you and your soon-to-be-ex can work together to determine what you consider fair.

For examples of some of the settlements I've seen when facilitating mediation, visit my blog on the topic:

Spousal Support in Ohio: A Look at Various Outcomes Achieved in Mediation

More questions?

For these and other questions, contact me to schedule a strategy session. I am here to support you throughout the divorce process. Divorce is hard. Separating your finances does not have to be.

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