In Ohio, the term Spousal Support refers to what is known in many states as alimony. Spousal Support, when ordered, is in addition to Child Support. There are important differences between Spousal Support and Child Support. Child Support cannot be deducted for tax purposes by the individual paying it nor is it taxed as income to the recipient. Conversely, Spousal Support is taxable income to the party receiving it and fully deductible by the party paying it.
Alimony and Taxes Planning
An experienced attorney can often plan carefully so that both parties will end up with more money after taxes than they would have had without such planning. In other words, it is important to understand and apply the tax code to let Uncle Sam help with a positive solution to your divorce problems. For example, if the party paying Spousal Support is in a much higher tax bracket than the recipient, he can benefit greatly by being able to fully deduct the spousal support payment from his taxable income to prevent it from being taxed. His income tax is, thus, reduced significantly. When the recipient is in a much lower tax bracket, she will pay a much lower tax, if any, on the spousal support income. Thus, both parties can wind up with significantly more money than they would otherwise have had.
Whether it is appropriate to make a spousal support award is in the broad discretion of the judge. There are no guidelines set by statute to guide the judge. Rather, there are simply statutory factors that the judge is required to consider when deciding if spousal support is appropriate and if so, the amount and duration of the spousal support. Some of the most important factors are the length of the marriage, the disparity, if any, in the parties’ incomes, the earning ability of the parties, health considerations, and whether one of the parties gave up a career to raise children while the other worked and increased their income over the years.
Often a vocational evaluation can be very helpful in assessing a party’s future income potential. Careful consideration must often be made as to what process, including more education or training, will be required for an individual to significantly increase their income. When important health issues effect one or both parties these too must be carefully considered.
The goal of providing for spousal support is to make it possible for the parties and their children, if any, to continue to enjoy the standard of living that they enjoyed during their marriage. If the party receiving spousal support is, however, cohabiting, the need for such spousal support is often significantly reduced or eliminated.
Modify or Terminate Spousal Support
Whenever spousal support is contemplated, it is essential to determine whether the court will retain jurisdiction to modify or terminate spousal support in the future. If the court retains such jurisdiction, it can make changes to or even end spousal support when significant changes take place in the future. Remarriage or cohabitation by the recipient spouse will usually be a basis to terminate spousal support. These future possibilities are often used as an automatic trigger for such termination. If jurisdiction for future modifications is not reserved, future modifications or termination can only take place in accord with the terms of the original order.
Consultation with our Spousal Support Attorney
If you are in a situation where spousal support is a potential issue, it is very important that you retain a competent spousal support attorney who has extensive training and experience to effectively analyze your situation and to effectively advocate for your position. Our spousal support lawyers have over 30 years of such experience and can effectively guide you through the complex issues involved in an alimony (spousal support) case.