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Ohio Alimony
Spousal Support

In Ohio, alimony is referred to as spousal support. Spousal support, which is separate from any distribution of marital property, means payment to a former spouse for sustenance and for support. Spousal support refers to the allowance of money or the use or possession of property not part of the division of marital property.

Either spouse can be ordered to pay support to the other. While spousal support is normally paid to the wife, Ohio law permits a husband to receive support if the wife is the primary income earner. Spousal support is based on income and resources, not gender.

Spousal support can be used for necessary expenses, including food, clothing, medical expenses, transportation costs and housing costs like rent or mortgage payments.

The court may grant spousal support in terms of monthly payments, or as a lump sum, in property or money, payable all at once or in installments.

In Ohio, spousal support is determined after marital property has been distributed to the parties.

In setting the amount, the Ohio court considers a variety of factors, but once the court hands down an order for spousal support, it usually cannot be modified. However, a substantial change in income by either spouse usually means a petition for modification can be submitted to the court.

Spousal support can be for a specified length of time, continue indefinitely, or be ordered to terminate upon the occurrence of an event.

The Ohio court decides the duration of spousal support. Support orders can be terminated by one of several occurrences. If spousal support is only owed for a short-term period, the order automatically terminates when the payment term ends. Additionally, the spousal support obligation terminates upon the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the recipient. Ohio law provides for the termination of spousal support if the recipient cohabits with a significant other.

Support may be permanent or temporary, depending on the discretion of the court. Permanent spousal support may be modified at any time. Modification of the amount and duration of the support can be done when economic conditions change, such as a decrease or increase in income of either party.

Courts prefer a specific ending date to end spousal support, if possible. The court may also maintain jurisdiction over the support issue, in order to allow the judge to review the order to decide whether it should be modified, terminated, or continued.

Support payments may be deducted from federal taxes, and the recipient must pay income tax on the payments.

Types of Alimony

In Ohio courts may order temporary, short- and long-term alimony. Temporary alimony is granted at the discretion of the court during the divorce proceedings and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills. Long-Term, or permanent, spousal support may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs, and is usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

A court can order that support be paid temporarily during the divorce action, temporarily or permanently when ordering a legal separation or temporarily or permanently when entering the final divorce decree.

Factors Considered by the Court

In Ohio the court must use its discretion, taking into account each spouses earning capacity and other resources while the divorce is pending. Ohio law sets out fourteen factors for a judge to consider when one spouse is seeking an award of spousal support. These factors are:

  • the income of the parties, from all sources, including, but not limited to, income derived from property awarded as part of the property division in the divorce proceeding;
  • the relative earning abilities of the parties;
  • the ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties;
  • the retirement benefits of the parties;
  • the duration of the marriage;
  • the extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because he/she will be custodian of a minor child or children of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;
  • the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  • the relative extent of education of the parties;
  • the relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including, but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties;
  • the contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to, any party's contribution to the acquisition of a professional degree of the other party;
  • the time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment provided the education, training, or job experience, and employment is, in fact, sought;
  • the tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;
  • the lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party's marital responsibilities; and
  • any other fact that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

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