Understanding the Complex Nature of Spousal Support


Unfortunately, you or a loved one may have been, or currently are, involved in domestic relations litigation. Issues involving spousal support arise in domestic relations disputes and ultimately the duration, amount, and termination of spousal support are determined by the Court on a case-by-case basis. Often, in domestic relations cases, the attorneys at the White Law Office, Co. assist many clients in understanding what spousal support is and what monetary amount is appropriate according to Ohio law.

Spousal support in Ohio means any payment or payments to be made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or a former spouse, that is both for sustenance and for support of the spouse or former spouse. See Ohio Revised Code (hereinafter “O.R.C.”) §3105.18(A). Spousal support does not include any payment made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or former spouse, that is made as part of a division or distribution of property or a distributive award under section 3105.171 (equitable division of marital and separate property) of the Revised Code. See Id.

In determining whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable, the Court will look to several factors set forth in the O.R.C. The Court shall consider the following factors in determining the nature, amount, terms of payment, and duration of spousal support, as outlined in Ohio Revised Code section 3105.18(C)(1)(a)-(n):

(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.


Additionally, it is important to note that spousal support may be payable either in gross or in installments according to the O.R.C. Not only can spousal support be payable in gross or installments, but even certain events may terminate the obligation to pay spousal support. Such terminating events include death, remarriage, or cohabitation with a significant other.

Recently, the Ohio State Bar Association published an article titled, “Law You Can Use- Spousal Support Determined Case by Case”, which described a general rule approach that judges and magistrates may use in determining the proper duration or length of time regarding spousal support payments. That general rule of thumb is “Some magistrates and judges … allow one year’s worth of spousal support for every three or every five years of the marriage’s length. Some magistrates and judges use an equalization approach.”[1] However, judges and magistrates are free to consider any of the fourteen (14) factors discussed above in determining the appropriate spousal support award, rather than following a general rule of thumb.

As discussed, spousal support is complicated to understand and calculate which is why judges and magistrates determine each award on a case-by-case basis. The White Law Office, Co. is happy to assist clients in navigating through the difficulties of domestic relations litigation, including complex domestic relations matters involving spousal support. We have assisted many clients in understanding the intricate nature of spousal support and have advocated on their behalf in Ohio courts. If you or a loved one have additional questions regarding spousal support, including questions involving the nature, amount, terms of payment, and duration, please contact the White Law Office, Co. immediately.


This article is not intended to provide legal advice. It is intended to provide broad and general information about the law. Before applying the law discussed herein, please consult with your Attorney or the Attorneys at the White Law Office, Co.

[1] https://www.ohiobar.org/forpublic/resources/lawyoucanuse/pages/lawyoucanuse-387.aspx (published through the OSBA and was originally published by Sylvania Attorney Pamela Manning, and updated by Cleveland attorney Laurel G. Stein of Nee Law Firm, Oct. 1, 2017).


Matthew A. Kearney

Attorney At Law

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