In Ohio, we use the term “spousal support” instead of Alimony. However, whether you call it spousal support or alimony, the question remains:” will I have to pay it?”, or “will the court find it appropriate that I receive it?”
Let’s go to two different couples. The first couple is Jack and Judy. Jack is a CEO of a large corporation, and earns well over $750K, not including his bonuses. Judy, on the other hand, is a stay at home mom, and has been busy keeping the house going and the children thriving. Judy also does a lot of charity work within the community, because she believes in the concept of “giving back”.
But today, Jack has informed Judy that he is unhappy and wants to terminate this marriage. They had been married for 27 years, and the two girls are now out of high school. He knows that he will not have to pay child support, but he doesn’t think it is fair that he has to pay spousal support FOREVER. His friends have cautioned him that this might happen, so after informing Judy that he wants to end the marriage, he goes to an attorney’s office downtown to discuss his concern.
His attorney explains that there are two types of spousal support: Temporary Support which is paid while the case is filed and ongoing, and the final support which will typically be determined either by agreement or by court order in the final decree. This final support will typically NOT be forever. Jack is entitled to retire someday, just like if he were to have stayed married to Judy. And if Jack retires at a normal age, he can petition the court to reduce or even halt the support.
Now, it is a matter of running the support numbers to determine what will be a fair division of Jack’s income. This is where a GOOD family law attorney is critical!!
The second couple is Sarah and Doug. They have also been married for 27 years, and Sarah is a cardiologist, and has been practicing medicine for over 18 years. Sarah and Doug also have 2 children, who are now in college. Sarah earns over $850K annually which includes some real estate investment income. Doug, on the other hand, is an aspiring artist, who works occasionally when he is offered a commission to do a portrait. Sarah has never minded that Doug did not bring much to the household related to income, because he brought so much more…he is and was a terrific dad, and without his love and presence the children would never have done as well as they did.
But, Sarah is unhappy and now wants out of the relationship. She says there is no one else, and maybe that’s true. But she is also concerned about how to divide assets/liabilities and more about who will pay support and for how long. So, after discussing with Doug her desire to end the marriage (never an easy subject), she visits an attorney downtown to have answers to her questions.
She learns that spousal support is not a gender specific issue. Just because she is female, she will not automatically receive spousal support. In fact, because of the long term marriage, and because she earns so much more than Doug, SHE will be the individual to pay support to Doug! But for how long, she asks. Being a cardiologist is stressful, and she always planned to retire at age 55. Certainly, she won’t have to continue to pay Doug support upon this retirement, right? Not so fast, says the attorney. Age 55 in the eyes of the court is arguably not a reasonable time to retire and stop paying support. Certainly, she can retire at any age she chooses, but she may end up paying support for another 10 years thereafter! Now, Sarah wishes she had seen this attorney a week earlier…..before she discussed the termination of her marriage with Doug.
The attorneys at Joseph & Joseph & Hanna, Co. LPA look forward to assisting you in your domestic relations matters.
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