As divorce attorney for over 25 years, one of the most common questions is How do i calculate spousal support?
The short answer is: There is no formula for calculating alimony/spousal support in Ohio. It is important that you hire a trusted attorney who has experience with judges and magistrates in the county of your divorce so that you can better predict a likely spousal support award. Most attorneys agree that the relative earnings (or earning ability) and length of marriage are the 2 most significant factors in determining the amount and duration of spousal support.
Unlike child support, which is calculated using a statutorily mandated formula, there is no specific calculation for courts to follow when deciding whether to order spousal support/alimony or when determining the type, amount, manner, and duration of payments.
Courts assume each spouse contributed equally to the marital income, for example, either by working outside of the home or by taking care of the home or children so that the other spouse could earn income. In addition, courts in Ohio 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.
Although the law provides the above guidelines for the court, it doesn’t weigh the factors. The judge or magistrate is required to consider all of the factors, but many do not hold them to be equal. As such, the trial court has broad discretion when awarding spousal support and likelihood of success on appeal is minimal. (Oh. Rev. Code §3105.18.)