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What is Spousal Support in a Divorce?

“Spousal support” has replaced “alimony” in the state of Ohio. Spousal support refers to the monthly payments made from one spouse to another during or after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to allow a spouse who is financially unable to support him/herself after a separation or divorce to receive money from the other spouse, who is in better shape financially. Since spousal support is based on income and resources, not gender, either spouse can be ordered by the court to pay spousal support, if the right set of circumstances exist.

While there is no specific formula for determining how much money a spouse may be ordered to pay as “spousal support,” Ohio provides some examples of things a judge can consider in order to come up with a specific amount. These factors include, but are not limited to, income, earning ability, age, education, contribution to education, mental/physical capacity, retirement benefits, duration of the marriage, standard of living during the marriage, assets and liabilities, tax consequences, and any other fact that the court thinks will make a difference. Based on recent trends, a court is unlikely to order spousal support to be paid where the spouses earn similar amounts of money or have only been married a short amount of time. However, if the marriage has lasted many years, one spouse earns all or most of the money, one of the spouses is mentally/physically disabled, and/or one of the spouses worked to help put the other spouse through school, the court is much more likely to order spousal support to be paid.

It is important to remember that spousal support affects the taxes of both the spouse who is paying the spousal support as well as the spouse who is receiving the payments during or after a divorce. Generally speaking, the spouse who is paying the support can deduct the payments from his or her income for tax purposes. On the other hand, the spouse who is receiving the support must add the amount he or she receives in spousal support to his or her income for tax purposes.

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