Family Law : Spousal Support and Other Marital Rights

Will I receive spousal support after my divorce?

If you are getting a divorce and spousal support may be a part of the judgment or decree, this area will help you better understand the spousal support issues of your divorce.

What duties or rights do married persons have?

Husbands and wives in Ohio have a legal duty to support each other during their marriage.

What is spousal support?

If they legally separate or divorce, the less well-off spouse may seek and obtain a spousal support, which is money paid by more well-off spouse.

When do courts order spousal support?

The spouse seeking support may seek a court order requiring the other spouse or ex-spouse to provide periodic spousal support payments to the less well-off spouse.

What is the amount of spousal support?

There are no spousal support guidelines in Ohio. When ordering spousal support, the court shall order “appropriate and reasonable” support taking into account various factors including:

  • the spouse’s standard of living prior to their separation or divorce;
  • their incomes and earning abilities;
  • their health;
  • their educational level; and
  • the duration of the marriage.

May spousal support be withheld from wages?

Spousal support payments usually withheld from a spouse’s wages are salaries and paid to the state child support office which then sends a spousal support check to the other spouse. However, a court may authorize a spouse or ex-spouse to send spousal support payments to the other spouse without going through the state child support office.

When might the court order spousal support?

A court is unlikely to order spousal support in a divorce decree if the husband and wife have only been married for a short time or if both of them are employed and have comparable incomes. A court is much more likely to order spousal support:

  • if the marriage has lasted many years;
  • one of the spouses has serious health problems or a disability;
  • there is a great difference in the incomes or financial resources of the two spouses;
  • one of the spouses had to stay home during the marriage in order to care for the children while the other spouse worked full-time to support the family; or
  • one of the spouses worked to help put the other spouse through college, law school, medical school, etc.

What about the other spouse's bills and debts?

During the marriage (even after the spouses separate), one spouse may be liable for the other spouse’s bills and debts for the purchase of so-called “necessaries.” “Necessaries” include food, housing, utility, and medical expenses. For example, if a utility company or medical provider is unable to obtain payment from the spouse who received their goods or services, the utility company or medical provider may then sue or take collection action against the other spouse for payment of the first spouse’s debt.

What else should I know?

In addition to the spousal duty to support and spousal support orders, spouses have various property rights, rights of inheritance, insurance and pension rights, and, for immigrant spouses, the opportunity to seek and obtain permanent legal residency in the United States based on their marriage to a United States citizen or permanent resident.

If you're looking for information on how your children will be affected by a divorce, dissolution or legal separation please see child custody and child support.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

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