Alimony Laws in Ohio

By Bernadette A. Safrath
Alimony Laws in Ohio
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Today, many marriages end in divorce, and sometimes, when one spouse earned the majority of the income during a marriage, a judge will order that spouse to pay alimony or spousal support to the other. Alimony allows the receiving spouse to support himself or herself after the divorce.


Ohio now refers to alimony as spousal support. Spousal support is considered separate from any distribution of marital property and is defined as payments to a former spouse “for sustenance and for support.” A court can order that support be paid temporarily during the divorce proceeding, temporarily or permanently when ordering a legal separation or temporarily or permanently when entering the final divorce decree. While spousal support is normally paid to the wife, Ohio law permits a husband to receive support if the wife is the primary income earner. Spousal support can be used for necessary expenses, including food, clothing, medical expenses, transportation costs and housing costs like rent or mortgage payments.

Determining the Amount

In Ohio, spousal support or alimony is determined after marital property has been distributed to the parties. A court can award spousal support as one lump sum payment or monthly installments. The award is determined after the court considers several factors, including the age and health of the parties, the length of the marriage, the standard of living the parties have become accustomed to during the marriage, the level of education each party has, the current income and additional earning abilities of each party and the assets of each party. Other important factors that are considered are whether the receiving party contributed to the other spouse’s ability to receive an education and excel in his or her career, whether the receiving party should not work because he or she is the custodian for the children and the funds necessary for the receiving spouse to obtain education or training to re-enter the work force.

Once a judge issues his or her order for spousal support, it usually cannot be modified. However, if either party’s income changes substantially, a request for modification can be submitted to the court.

Termination of Alimony

Spousal orders can be terminated by one of several occurrences. If spousal support is only owed for a short-term period, the order automatically terminates when the payment term has been satisfied. Additionally, the spousal support obligation terminates upon the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. Ohio law now has a provision terminating spousal support if the receiving spouse is living with a significant other.