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Reasonable and Appropriate Spousal Support

Conversations surrounding reasonable and appropriate financial support for an ex-spouse can become heated and emotional. The conflict that results from these heightened emotions often spills over into other areas of divorce litigation and dissolution negotiation and results in unforeseen delays in the process. For example, one spouse may think a proposed spousal support award is too high and in response, renege on a previous agreement (e.g., a marital residence value).

​Ohio law defines spousal support as any payment made to a former spouse that is both for sustenance and for support. No guideline spousal support formula exists in Ohio and the determination of the amount and duration of spousal support tends to be one of the most unpredictable aspects of divorce litigation and dissolution negotiation.

Determining what is reasonable and appropriate spousal support is not a simple answer. Christopher M. Alexander has aggressively represented clients through divorce, dissolution, and post-decree matters for more than 25 years. When you need a skilled and experienced family law lawyer to assist you in determining what constitutes reasonable and appropriate spousal support, contact Christopher M. Alexander, Esq. at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

Is Spousal Support Paid One Year for Every Three Years of Marriage

Many people have heard the rule of thumb that spousal support, if appropriate, will be awarded ‘one year for every three years’ of marriage. This means if you have been married for 15 years, reasonable and appropriate spousal support will be awarded for a period of 5 years.

Question:  Is the ‘rule of thumb’ appropriate in a situation where one parent foregoes a promising employment opportunity to stay at home with young children?

 

Question:  What if a family relocates due to one spouse’s career, military service, or higher education and the second spouse is unable to earn what they previously earned?

While ‘one year for every three years’ of marriage may make for good conversation on social media, experienced family law lawyers know that a true spousal support award will be determined on a case-by-case basis after reviewing the statutory factors in connection with the facts and circumstances of the parties and their marriage. Ask friends of yours who reside in our local communities whether their Judge used a simple ‘rule of thumb’ to calculate reasonable and appropriate spousal support and I suspect you will get very different answers.

What Factors Will the Court Consider to Determine Spousal Support

In determining whether spousal support is reasonable and appropriate, and to determine the amount and duration of a spousal support award, the Court will consider the following factors:

  1. The income of the parties;

  2. The relative earning abilities of the parties;

  3. The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;

  4. The retirement benefits of the parties;

  5. The duration of the marriage;

  6. The impact of a minor child on seeking employment outside the home;

  7. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;

  8. The relative extent of education of the parties;

  9. The relative assets and liabilities of the parties;

  10. The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party;

  11. The time and expense necessary to acquire education, training, or job experience;

  12. The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;

  13. The lost income production capacity due to marital responsibilities;

  14. Any other factor that the Court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

In litigated cases, the assigned Judge or Magistrate is free to interpret and weigh these factors as they deem appropriate to determine the amount and duration of a spousal support award. In dissolution negotiations, both spouses and their attorneys will analyze these factors and determine what they believe to be an appropriate spousal support proposal.

With so many variables and no concrete formula to rely on, it is easy to see how the determination of what constitutes reasonable and appropriate spousal support is one of the most unpredictable aspects of divorce litigation and dissolution negotiation. Christopher M. Alexander has aggressively represented clients through divorce, dissolution, and post-decree matters for more than 25 years. When you need a skilled and experienced family law lawyer to assist you in achieving your goals, contact Christopher M. Alexander, Esq. at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

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