Divorce can cause financial hardship to either spouse, particularly when one party earns significantly less than the other. To help bridge the gap between the spouses’ incomes and assist the lower-earning spouse to get on her feet financially, Ohio divorce courts can order alimony, or spousal support, to be paid by one spouse to the other in certain circumstances.
Ohio courts can award spousal support in divorce and legal separation cases, but cannot do so unless one of the spouses requests it. If the court decides support is appropriate in a particular case, the law requires that the award amount is reasonable. The law does not specifically state what amount would be considered reasonable because courts must view each case individually. Ohio courts can also award temporary spousal support while a divorce or separation is pending to ensure the lesser-earning spouse has financial support until the divorce is finalized.
Types of Property
In Ohio, spousal support may be paid in real property, personal property or as a cash payment. If the court awards cash, it can order it to be paid all at once or in installments. Thus, the spousal support award will be customized for each couple’s situation. For example, if a spouse does not have enough cash on hand to pay spousal support in a lump sum, he can make monthly payments to his ex-spouse instead.
Ohio courts rely on several factors to determine a reasonable amount of spousal support. A few of these factors include the income of the spouses, each spouse's earning ability, duration of the marriage, spouses’ retirement benefits and the standard of living the spouses established during the marriage. Judges can expand upon the list of factors since Ohio law allows judges to consider any factor the court finds to be relevant and equitable.
The divorce court can modify the amount or terms of the original spousal support award if it determines the ex-spouses' circumstances have changed and the original order permits modification. Changed circumstances may include increases or involuntary decreases in a spouse’s salary, wages or bonuses, or living or medical expenses. For example, if the paying spouse loses his job through no fault of his own, the court could modify the amount of spousal support he is required to pay if so requested.