The award of spousal support in the State of Ohio is determined by Ohio Revised Code 3105.18 which sets forth several factors the Court shall consider when determining if one spouse should pay another as part of a distribution of property during a divorce. The statutory factors include:
- Income of parties from all sources
- Age and physical/mental and emotional condition
- Division of retirement benefits
- Duration of the marriage
- Minor children or responsibility for the care of children
- Standard of living of the parties while married
- The extent of education of the parties
- Asset/liabilities of each party
- Need to further education before returning to workforce
- Loss of income because of marital responsibility
- Any other factor deemed relevant by the Court
Spousal support is not appropriate in all cases. Even if several of the statutory factors indicate support would be appropriate, the Court may not issue a spousal award. For example, there may be a large discrepancy between the parties’ income, however if the marriage is under 5 years in duration, the Court may decide that spousal support is not necessary. However, even in circumstances in which the parties have been married for longer than 10 years and a large discrepancy of income exists, the Court my not order spousal support if they find that the party who would otherwise receive support is compensated through the division of retirement or his/her spouse is absorbing a proportionate amount of the marital liabilities.
Some common questions that client’s often ask regarding spousal support:
Does it matter what County I live in when contemplating spousal support?
Yes. The Court has tremendous discretion when determining if spousal support is reasonable and appropriate. It is entirely possible that a judge in County “A” may order spousal support while a neighboring judge in County “B” may not. It is extremely important to consult with a family law attorney in the County in which you are contemplating seeking a divorce.
Can a spousal support order be modified?
Generally speaking, spousal support is not modifiable unless the parties specifically reserve the jurisdiction of the Court. If jurisdiction is reserved, you may limit the modification to only address the amount; duration or both. You may further limit the modification terms to only allow for a decrease in support, for example, if the obligor has a significant loss of income.
Will spousal support automatically terminate if the obligee remarries?
No. Spousal support will only terminate by statute upon the death of either party.
However, it is very common to include additional triggers for termination of a spousal obligation, such as: remarriage, co-habitation, completion of school or an increase in the obligee’s income.
It is important to remember, if you are contemplating a divorce and you believe spousal support may be a factor, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced family law attorney in the County in which you reside. Spousal support cases vary greatly within the State of Ohio and a mistake in the drafting of your divorce decree could be irreversible down the road.