Do I Get Alimony in a Divorce in Ohio if I Have Been Married for 25 Years?

by Heather Frances Google
Spousal support is one of many issues to consider when divorcing.

Spousal support is one of many issues to consider when divorcing.

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Whether your family depends on two incomes to make ends meet or you depend on your spouse to provide financial support, divorce can present financial challenges. In Ohio, alimony, also known as spousal support, may be available to help you bridge the gap between what you can earn after your divorce and what you were used to having. You won’t automatically get alimony simply because you were married for a particular length of time, but a longer marriage may help your case.

Getting Spousal Support

Either spouse is eligible for spousal support, but the spouse who wants it typically must ask the court for it in the initial divorce paperwork. Frequently, Ohio courts order spousal support to be paid in periodic payments and once the court orders support, the paying spouse must pay it or risk further penalties. A divorcing couple may come to their own agreement about spousal support, but the court still must approve such agreements for them to be enforceable.

Support Guidelines

Unlike child support, there are no specific formulas or guidelines for an Ohio court to use when determining the amount or duration of spousal support, as of 2012. Courts have broad discretion when it comes to ordering spousal support and calculating how much support is appropriate in each case. Spousal support is determined on a case-by-case basis and may vary widely between courts and even between judges.

Factors for Support

Ohio courts consider several factors to help them determine whether to issue a spousal support order, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning potential, and each spouse’s standard of living prior to the divorce. If a couple was married for a long time, like 25 years, the court is more likely to order spousal support than if the marriage lasted only a short time. And, if one spouse supported the family while the other spouse continued his education, thereby increasing his own earning potential, the court may be more inclined to order spousal support for the supporting spouse. The general trend in Ohio is for courts to award one year of spousal support for every three years of marriage, but this is not a guarantee and may not apply to marriages of long duration.

Pending Ohio Legislation

Some Ohio domestic relations lawyers are currently pursuing a change to Ohio law that would create spousal support guidelines to add predictability to support awards, but opponents resist the creation of an entitlement to spousal support. In 2011, the Spousal Support Subcommittee of the Ohio State Bar promoted legislation to create a presumption that compensatory spousal support awards should be of indefinite duration if the marriage lasted at least 25 years. Such legislation would create a formula to determine the amount of support by using the difference in the income-generating capacity of the spouses multiplied by 40 to 50 percent for long-term marriages. As of 2012, no legislation has passed to change Ohio’s current spousal support methods.