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How Long Is Alimony Paid?

In Ohio, alimony is now called “spousal support,” though it basically means the same thing. Spousal support is a sum of money that one spouse pays to the other after divorce. Typically, payments are made monthly.

No spouse has a “right” to alimony in Ohio in the same manner that children have a right to child support. Instead, a judge must run down through a long list of factors to determine whether alimony is even warranted in the first place. Spouses always have the right to waive any ability to seek alimony in a valid prenuptial agreement or divorce or separation agreement.

One question we receive frequently involves the duration of alimony. Just how long does a spouse have to make payments to his or her ex? Whereas alimony once upon a time lasted until death, a judge has discretion to award for a much shorter length of time.

Two Types of Spousal Support

In Ohio, there are two types of support. Temporary spousal support will last for the duration of the divorce. Once the judge enters a divorce decree, temporary spousal support will end. You can ask for temporary support when you file for divorce. Judges typically order temporary support simply to maintain the status quo until the divorce is finalized, and receiving temporary alimony does not mean that you will receive it after the divorce goes through.

A judge will enter a final support order at the time you are divorced. This final support order is usually what people are asking about when they wonder about the duration of spousal support in Ohio.

Determining the Duration of Spousal Support

Judges do not follow any sort of formula when deciding how long to award spousal support. Instead, ORC 3105.18(C) lists a series of factors a judge should consider. In most cases, judges do one of the following:

  • A judge might order indefinite spousal support. This type of order is rare. Indefinite support can end upon an event, such as remarriage of the spouse receiving the support. It might last until either spouse ends up dying.
  • A judge can order that the spousal support will end on a certain date. For example, a judge might order that support be paid for 4 years, at which point it terminates. Today, judges are more inclined to order support with a termination date. A judge might order this type of support to give a spouse time to earn an education or work experience so that he or she can be self-supporting.

Even if a judge awards indefinite spousal support, the court retains jurisdiction over the spousal support so that he can modify it in the future.

When Will a Judge Modify Spousal Support?

If the court retained jurisdiction, then the order is modifiable. If the court did not, then the order is not modifiable.

Generally, a court will modify spousal support only when there has been a substantial (or “material”) change in the circumstances of either party. Remember, spousal support is designed to help soften the financial blow of divorce felt by the spouse who has fewer assets or who makes less in income. The amount ordered depends on the financial need of the receiving spouse and the financial resources of the payor spouse.

Either circumstance can change. For example, the spouse receiving indefinite spousal support might suddenly get a promotion at work and make much more money. At this point, he or she might no longer need as much spousal support or any support at all.

Alternately, the payor spouse might permanently retire or become disabled, at which point his or her income drops and paying spousal support becomes much more difficult. At these points, the judge can modify the spousal support order and end support if necessary.

What Life Events Can End Spousal Support?

Certain events can also result in the termination of spousal support. For example, the spouse who is paying support dies, at which point spousal support obligations will end. Also, the spouse who receives alimony can lose it if he or she remarries or, in some situations, begins to cohabitate with someone else.

If you receive alimony, you should meet with an attorney before moving in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Similarly, if you pay alimony, you should consult an attorney if you catch wind that your ex has started a romantic relationship with someone else.

Contact Our Spousal Support Lawyers with More Questions

Spousal support is a complicated area of law, and a good attorney can make all the difference. At Lawrence Law Office, we can help build a case to either maximize your spousal support or eliminate it altogether. Please contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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