(A) As used in this section, “spousal support” means any payment or payments to be made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or a former spouse, that is both for sustenance and for support of the spouse or former spouse. “Spousal support” does not include any payment made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or former spouse, that is made as part of a division or distribution of property or a distributive award under section 3105.171 [3105.17.1] of the Revised Code.
(B) In divorce and legal separation proceedings, upon the request of either party and after the court determines the division or disbursement of property under section 3105.171 [3105.17.1] of the Revised Code, the court of common pleas may award reasonable spousal support to either party. During the pendency of any divorce, or legal separation proceeding, the court may award reasonable temporary spousal support to either party.
An award of spousal support may be allowed in real or personal property, or both, or by decreeing a sum of money, payable either in gross or by installments, from future income or otherwise, as the court considers equitable.
Any award of spousal support made under this section shall terminate upon the death of either party, unless the order containing the award expressly provides otherwise.
(C) (1) In determining whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable, and in determining the nature, amount, and terms of payment, and duration of spousal support, which is payable either in gross or in installments, the court shall consider all of the following factors:
(a) The income of the parties, from all sources, including, but not limited to, income derived from property divided, disbursed, or distributed under section 3105.171 [3105.17.1] of the Revised Code;
(b) The relative earning abilities of the parties;
(c) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;
(d) The retirement benefits of the parties;
(e) The duration of the marriage;
(f) The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because that party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;
(g) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
(h) The relative extent of education of the parties;
(i) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties;
(j) 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;
(k) 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;
(l) The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;
(m) The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party’s marital responsibilities;
(n) Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.
(2) In determining whether spousal support is reasonable and in determining the amount and terms of payment of spousal support, each party shall be considered to have contributed equally to the production of marital income.
(D) In an action brought solely for an order for legal separation under section 3105.17 of the Revised Code, any continuing order for periodic payments of money entered pursuant to this section is subject to further order of the court upon changed circumstances of either party.
(E) If a continuing order for periodic payments of money as alimony is entered in a divorce or dissolution of marriage action that is determined on or after May 2, 1986, and before January 1, 1991, or if a continuing order for periodic payments of money as spousal support is entered in a divorce or dissolution of marriage action that is determined on or after January 1, 1991, the court that enters the decree of divorce or dissolution of marriage does not have jurisdiction to modify the amount or terms of the alimony or spousal support unless the court determines that the circumstances of either party have changed and unless one of the following applies:
(1) In the case of a divorce, the decree or a separation agreement of the parties to the divorce that is incorporated into the decree contains a provision specifically authorizing the court to modify the amount or terms of alimony or spousal support.
(2) In the case of a dissolution of marriage, the separation agreement that is approved by the court and incorporated into the decree contains a provision specifically authorizing the court to modify the amount or terms of alimony or spousal support.
(F) For purposes of divisions (D) and (E) of this section, a change in the circumstances of a party includes, but is not limited to, any increase or involuntary decrease in the party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses.
(G) If any person required to pay alimony under an order made or modified by a court on or after December 1, 1986, and before January 1, 1991, or any person required to pay spousal support under an order made or modified by a court on or after January 1, 1991, is found in contempt of court for failure to make alimony or spousal support payments under the order, the court that makes the finding, in addition to any other penalty or remedy imposed, shall assess all court costs arising out of the contempt proceeding against the person and shall require the person to pay any reasonable attorney’s fees of any adverse party, as determined by the court, that arose in relation to the act of contempt.
(H) In divorce or legal separation proceedings, the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to either party at any stage of the proceedings, including, but not limited to, any appeal, any proceeding arising from a motion to modify a prior order or decree, and any proceeding to enforce a prior order or decree, if it determines that the other party has the ability to pay the attorney’s fees that the court awards. When the court determines whether to award reasonable attorney’s fees to any party pursuant to this division, it shall determine whether either party will be prevented from fully litigating that party’s rights and adequately protecting that party’s interests if it does not award reasonable attorney’s fees.
Arguments can and have been made that the Ohio Child Support Computation worksheet produces results that are unfair to one or both of the parties, but at least it is a starting point for determining child support. I for one would like to see Ohio create a spousal support computation worksheet to be used in all divorce/dissolution cases. However, until this happens, the parties are left to their own devices. I have prepared the following guidelines that I hope will help parties determine if spousal support is warranted, and if so, how much.
In reviewing these tips, please remember that spousal support was created to help compensate one party for their contributions to the household and to make sure, where there is enough income, the state would not be left to pick up the tab for the other party and the children. Obviously things have changed, but try to remember the spirit in which these laws were created.
* As a general rule, spousal support may be considered an option if one of the parties has disposable income, which generally means that he/she makes over $55,000 per year or more.
*In addtion, spousal support may be granted if the other party makes approximately half ($27,000 per year) or less than the other party.
* Generally, if the court finds that one party should be granted spousal support, the court will likely grant it in the amount of $500.00 per month or more depending on the parties’ income. Courts generally don’t grant spousal support in amounts less than $500.00 per month. (This may be because the court may think that anything less than $500.00 per month is not really helping or is not a fair assessment of one spouse’s contributions…)
* Remember that contrary to child support, spousal support is considered income for the party receiving it and is tax deductible for the party paying it. This means that if you are on the receiving end, if you have the option, you should negotiatiate to get more money in child support and less in spousal support. If you are on the paying end and you have the option, you should negotiate to pay more in spousal support and less in child support.
Hopefully, these tips are helpful as you assess your own situtation and prepare for a divorce or dissolution.