Q: I’m starting divorce proceedings against my husband. How much spousal support am I eligible to receive?
A: It depends. Since there is no “black letter law” on spousal support, it must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: How does that work?
A: Under Ohio law, the court must consider 14 statutory factors when determining how much monthly spousal support, if any, will be awarded. In most cases, two important factors are the length of the marriage and the income of each party. The goal of spousal support is to reach an equitable result. The court must consider whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable.
Q: Does the court follow any general guidelines in making spousal support awards?
A: Some magistrates and judges use a general rule of thumb that allows one year’s worth of spousal support for every three or every five years of the marriage’s length. Some magistrates and judges use an equalization approach. It is not uncommon for the court to include, in the spousal support award, provisions stating that the spousal support will stop if the former spouse remarries or cohabits with another person. There is no general rule used when determining the amount of spousal support that should be awarded. The award amount is determined on a case-by-case basis and largely depends upon each party’s wages, the discrepancy between the wage amounts, and each person’s monthly necessary expenses. Other factors also are considered, including the education, earning capacity and health of each spouse. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage is also considered by the court.
Q: Does the court always find that spousal support must be paid?
A: No. If the parties were not married for a long time and their incomes are fairly equal, it is entirely possible that the court will award no spousal support to either party. And, of course, the parties can always agree that neither one will receive any spousal support.
Q: Is it always the wife that is entitled to spousal support?
A: No. If the wife has historically earned a higher income than the husband, the husband may be eligible to receive spousal support for a period of time.
This Law You Can Use legal information article was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Sylvania attorney Pamela Manning, and updated by Cleveland attorney Laurel G. Stein.