Alimony, today also commonly called spousal support, can be an important issue for many divorcing couples in Ohio. Many people harbor misconceptions about this provision gleaned from popular culture or their own friends and family.
However, before assuming alimony can only be decided a certain way, you should speak with an attorney about the matter and any other concerns about your divorce. While there are some basic general rules governing how courts approach this issue, such decisions also depend heavily on the specific facts of each case.
Settling alimony issues through agreements
Couples who are able to come to an amicable agreement about relevant issues may draw up an arrangement that includes alimony payments. Prenuptial agreements can also include provisions concerning spousal support; generally, if the agreement is valid and there is no extreme unfairness in the provision, courts tend to enforce them.
Factors that affect an Ohio court’s decision
In cases where the matter of support enters litigation, courts usually consider various factors set forth by Ohio law. Unlike child support, there is no official calculator or set of rigid guidelines.
Top factors that affect spousal support include the duration of the marriage, the marital standard of living and the relative financial situations and earning potentials of the spouses, as well as issues that could limit a spouse’s ability to earn, such as health conditions, age or lack of work experience. Thus, spouses with similar income levels who exit a relatively short marriage are less likely to receive alimony than a spouse who stayed home to raise the children throughout a 20-year marriage.
Various approaches to setting payment amounts and duration
Specific amounts and payment schedules are set based on the above factors as well as other relevant information. One person may need alimony for a short time while getting job training or education. Another may need larger payments for a more extended time. Some judges emphasize the length of the marriage, awarding a year of support for every several years of marriage. Others may put more stress on helping the lesser-earning spouse maintain a somewhat equal income level to the higher earner.