In Ohio, alimony is payment made for the sustenance and support of a former spouse following divorce. It’s important to keep in mind that alimony is separate from any child support payments that you might need to make due to the nature of child custody. An award of alimony is made in installments or a lump sum payment. It is separate from a divorce decree order regarding the division or distribution of property. However, a court can order spousal support in the form of a transfer of real or personal property. While divorce proceedings are pending, a court can order reasonable temporary spousal support. An award of alimony terminates when either spouse dies, unless the order containing the award indicates otherwise.
In order to qualify for alimony, the court will look at a number of factors which it deems reasonable, relevant, and fair. In deciding on the amount and terms of payment, the court assumes that each spouse made an equal contribution to the marital income. It will also consider the tax consequences each spouse will incur as a result of an alimony order.
Key factors the court looks at include income (including that derived from property), earning capacity, health and age of the spouses, as well as their education, retirement benefits, length of the marriage, standard of living during marriage, and relative assets and liabilities. The court will also consider whether the recipient of alimony will be unable to seek employment due to the custody and care of a child, any contributions either spouse made to the other’s education and training, proven “lost income production capacity” due to marital responsibilities, and the time it will take for the recipient spouse to acquire the education and training necessary to become self-supporting.
Nothing in the spousal support laws found in Ohio’s state law sets a limit or formula capping the amount of alimony that can be awarded to a former spouse. In determining an amount, the court will take into account the factors discussed above.
In Campbell v. Campbell, decided in Ohio in 1968, the appellate court struck down an alimony award which it concluded was excessive. The award was for $5,000 to the wife, which amounted to weekly payments of $15 a week over six years. The husband, who did not have a job or any assets, was $24,000 in debt. Further, there was no evidence of earning capacity on his part. Accordingly, the appellate court deemed the alimony award to be a mere form of punishment.
There are a number of variables considered by the court when determining alimony. If you are seeking spousal support, or think you may be ordered to pay it, it is in your best interest to discuss the matter with a lawyer.
The court has discretion to decide the length and terms of alimony payments based on what it deems reasonable. An alimony award can be short or long term. Temporary spousal support lasts only for the duration of the divorce proceedings and ends when a divorce decree is issued. Both types of alimony terminate automatically upon the death of either spouse, unless the award order states otherwise.
A lawyer can help you during the difficult time of divorce by making sure you do not inadvertently waive your right to alimony. The court will not know you need spousal support unless you ask, so it is best to include a request for alimony in the beginning—with your divorce petition. In addition, a lawyer can make sure you get the funds you need right away by requesting temporary spousal support while you go through your divorce. If you neglect this and ask for it later, it may not be granted retroactively.
The issue of alimony is a highly contentious, variable area of divorce. It is crucial to protect yourself, as well as your current and future financial situation. If you are considering filing for divorce, or have been served with divorce papers, get expert help and contact your local Ohio family lawyer today.