Couples fight over money when they’re married, so it’s no surprise that support payments are a source of conflict even after a divorce is final.
Both alimony and child support are based on the parties’ incomes, plus other factors. Support amounts are usually decided during the divorce, but they can be modified if income or other circumstances change. No matter where you are in the process, it’s important to have all the facts before you agree to a support amount.
At Adams Family Law, we will work tirelessly to get all the information we need to argue for a support amount that is legally justified and good for you and your children.
How do Courts Decide Spousal Support?
Alimony (also known as spousal support) is paid by one former spouse to another and is designed to support the spouse rather than the children. Contrary to stereotype, either a husband or a wife can be ordered to pay or receive spousal support.
A judge may award support as a lump sum or as regular payments. Sometimes, support payments last only a short time to help a lower-earning spouse get education or return to the workforce. Sometimes, support payments continue until the recipient dies or remarries. In deciding the type, amount and length of spousal support, a judge may consider many things:
- Earning ability
- Age and health
- Retirement benefits
- The length of the marriage
- Whether one spouse should be a stay at home parent
- Assets and liabilities
- Whether one party paid for the other’s education
- Any other factor that the court thinks is relevant and fair
You can return to court and ask the judge to change your spousal support payments if your divorce or dissolution decree allows for modification and if the parties’ circumstances have changed. Examples of changed circumstances might include the paying party being laid off from work, or the recipient getting a big raise.
How Do Courts Decide Child Support?
Unlike spousal support, child support is calculated using very specific guidelines that take into account both parents’ incomes, the number of children, and the average cost of raising kids.
To arrive at a number, the court starts with each parent’s income. Spousal support is added to the receiving parent’s income and deducted from the paying parents’ income. The court adds the parents’ incomes together, takes certain other factors into account (such as the cost of health insurance and child care), and uses a chart to arrive at a “guideline” support amount. The court may order a different amount under certain circumstances.
As a general rule, if a child lives mostly with one parent, that parent is likely to receive child support. If the parents have a shared parenting plan and the children spend about the same amount of time with each parent, the guideline support amount may be reduced to take this into account. But there are exceptions, especially if one parent makes a lot more money than the other.
Child support is paid directly to the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency and is usually deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck or bank account. In most cases, support lasts until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. Child support can be modified if there is a change in circumstances.
The amount of your support payments can dramatically affect your standard of living. If you’re getting a divorce or your circumstances have changed, contact Adams Family Law for a free consultation.