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Understanding Spousal Support in Ohio: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the biggest uncertainties in a divorce pertains to financial wellbeing, including understanding spousal support. Spousal support is a court-ordered financial obligation that becomes an undeniable point of conflict between a splitting couple. 

Also referred to as alimony, this ruling is intended to maintain an equitable split of the parties’ incomes. The court has the freedom to determine its duration, scope, and amount based upon factors outlined in Ohio statutes. 

Although Ohio’s legal code is challenging to navigate alone, an understanding of what it is and how it works is a perfect start. Let’s explore some of these challenges. 

How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Ohio?

Spousal support is determined on a case-by-case basis in Ohio, meaning it is not defined by a general formula. It is up to the court to determine what is reasonable. 

In total, there are 14 statutory factors to consider in the determination of the amount one party will be ordered to pay another. These factors include duration of marriage, income levels, earning capacity, and more. 

As a result, spousal support can be limited to a confined span of time or issued indefinitely, depending on the circumstances. Gender, however, is not a factor in this determination. 

The 14 factors include:

  • Income
  • Earning ability
  • Age and condition
  • Retirement benefits
  • Marriage duration
  • Ability to seek employment
  • Standard of living
  • Education
  • Assets and liabilities
  • Contribution to professional degrees
  • Time and expenses needed for education
  • Tax consequences
  • Lost income from responsibilities
  • Relevant and equitable factors

If there is a discrepancy between incomes, the judge or magistrate will consider the appropriate and equitable way to resolve this. Adversely, if there is minor income discrepancy and the marriage was short-term, these could be reasons that the judge may not consider ordering either party to pay spousal support. 

For a longer marriage, some judges and magistrates will consider a more extensive duration that one will pay spousal support, which could be for a set number of years or until there is a change in the circumstances of the parties. There is no bright-line rule for the court to follow. 

Cohabitation and Its Impact on Ohio Spousal Support

Cohabitation occurs when two people decide to live together for a duration of time and with a degree of commitment that is acknowledged on a case-by-case basis. Ohio’s legal system does not recognize cohabitation or domestic partnerships as having marital status; however, it can affect spousal support in Ohio. 

If the receiving party cohabitates with a new partner, spousal support can be terminated or adjusted, as this is considered a change in circumstance. This can play a role in the determination of spousal support both prior to the finalization of the divorce and after the final decree is made. 

The adjustment due to this change in circumstance does not happen automatically, so we recommend speaking with an attorney to discuss the dimensions and possibilities of this change.

Spousal and Child Support: How They Work Together

The amount that is calculated for spousal support could indeed affect child support. While spousal support is only issued from one spouse to the other, child support takes into account contributions from both parties. Income, investments, and healthcare are just a few factors in the determination of both child support and spousal support. 

When the court calculates child support, both parents’ gross income is factored into the amount allocated. However, any spousal support order from former spouses can be a permitted deduction from that gross income (along with several other allowable deductions). 

Several complications may come about in determining child support in accordance with spousal support, which will often necessitate contacting a lawyer. 

Spousal Support Considerations After Cheating

It is not explicitly stated that infidelity is considered in the awarding of spousal support in Ohio. The court is not required to identify adultery as relevant. 

However, the court may consider any factor that is “fair and relevant” in application to the alimony decision (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3105.18). If infidelity is deemed relevant to the equitable resolution, it may play a role. 

For example, if the relation has an impact on the spouse’s finances (as recognized by the judge or magistrate), this could affect spousal support.

How Domestic Violence Impacts Spousal Support

There are several possible implications of domestic violence on the decision of alimony. 

Sometimes, the court may decide that the perpetrator will not be receiving spousal support at all. Other times, the court can entitle the victim to increased support. 

The court may also consider how the victim’s ability to support themselves has been affected. Like many factors, the degree of its relevance will be determined by the judge and magistrate. 

In such circumstances of abuse, the Ohio Revised Code offers legal provisions for victims in these kinds of abusive situations. 

Modifying Spousal Support in Ohio

Modifications to support can be requested through a motion filed with the court. If the circumstances used to determine the current support amount have significantly changed, the court may consider modifying the support order. 

Life is extremely unpredictable and spousal support can move with it. For example, increased medical bills or job termination may warrant the need to lower the initial amount for the owing party. 

On the other hand, the alimony recipient may request an increase if their earning capacity is inaccurate or if their justified expenses heavily enlarge. 

An adjustment can be requested by either party. The goal is to make the spousal support determination more feasible for the foreseeable future. 

Practical Advice for Navigating Spousal Support

  • Consider your own financial situation and how it relates to your current and future needs. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the dimensions of possible outcomes.
  • Consider how communication with your spouse/ex-spouse could play a role.
  • Do not waive off the aid of legal advice. Consult with an attorney to uphold your best interests. Having a reliable attorney will provide you with the most accurate interpretation of your situation, which will result in more informed decision making.

Need Help with Spousal Support in Ohio?

The process of determining and understanding spousal support can be stressful and intimidating. Because there is not a direct formula for Ohio’s calculation, there are many complexities in the balance of alimony. 

As early as possible, consult with a family law attorney for a specific understanding of your financial rights in Ohio. 

Contact the experienced attorneys at Trolinger Law Offices for guidance on your options as the party paying or receiving spousal support, or if you are just beginning the complex divorce or modification process.