16th Jan 2014

Currently spousal support in Ohio is determined on a case by case basis. In determining the amount and duration of spousal support the Court is governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.18. This code section lists a number of factors that the Court must consider in determining the amount and duration of support. These factors are vague and there can be vast differences in the amount of spousal support awarded depending on which County in Ohio the divorce is filed in.

The Ohio state legislature is currently reviewing a revision to the Spousal Support statute that would create a formula, much like the current child support guidelines in determining if spousal support is to be paid and if so the amount and duration.

Listed below is the proposed statute as currently drafted.

Spousal Support

1. “Regarding the “duration” of a compensatory spousal support award, a rebuttable presumption arises that it should be indefinite in a marital relationship of 25 years or more, and definite in a marital relationship between five and 25 years. For definite durations, the statutory ranges are 30% to 35% of the length of a relationship between five and 10 years; 35% to 40% of the length of a relationship of 10 to 15 years; 40% to 45% of the length of a relationship between 15 and 20 years; and, 45% to 50% of the length of a relationship of 20 to 25 years.

2. Regarding the “amount” of a compensatory spousal support award, the method for computing “is the amount that equals the difference in the income generating capacities of both spouses multiplied by an appropriate percentage selected by the court from the following applicable ranges of percentages:” 25% to 30% for marital relationships between five and 10 years; 30% to 35% for relationships between 10 and 15 years; 35% to 40% for relationships between 15 and 20 years; and 40% to 50% in relationships of 20 years or more.

3. In selecting an appropriate percentage figure within any range for the duration and amount of a compensatory spousal support award, or in exercising discretion to deviate from such ranges, the court may consider a list of factors very similar to the factors currently in the spousal support statute (RC 3105.18).

4. In any marital relationship of less than five years, issues of entitlement, duration and amount regarding any award of compensatory spousal support are completely matters for determination within the broad discretion of the court.”

The Domestic Relations Section of the Ohio Judicial Conference is opposed to this proposal, but some individual Domestic Relation Judges and Magistrates have started using the new guidelines in making their decisions when ordering spousal support. Whether this specific proposal to legislation will become law is a matter to be debated. Such proposals have been made in the past and have not been enacted.

The push to create a statewide formula for calculating spousal support in Domestic Relations cases seems to be picking up steam again. Until such legislation becomes law, the decision on whether to order spousal support, the amount of spousal support, and the duration of spousal support, the Courts must consider the following factors:

“(a) The income of the parties, from all sources, including, but not limited to, income derived from property divided, disbursed, or distributed under section 3105.171 of the Revised Code;

(b) The relative earning abilities of the parties;

(c) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;

(d) The retirement benefits of the parties;

(e) The duration of the marriage;

(f) The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because that party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;

(g) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;

(h) The relative extent of education of the parties;

(i) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties;

(j) The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to, any party’s contribution to the acquisition of a professional degree of the other party;

(k) The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment, provided the education, training, or job experience, and employment is, in fact, sought;

(l) The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;

(m) The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party’s marital responsibilities;

(n) Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.” O.R.C. 3105.18

For more information about spousal support please visit http://www.andrewicelaw.com or contact us at 513.651.4227.

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