An award of spousal support will typically terminate on a specified date in the future, or
upon the death of either party, the remarriage of the spouse receiving spousal support,
or the cohabitation of the party receiving spousal support. While a date specific, death or
remarriage are pretty easy to determine, cohabitation is not.
Ohio Courts generally look to three (3) factors to determine cohabitation: (1) an actual
living together; (2) of a sustained duration; and (3) with shared day-to-day expenses.
Cohabitation is often described as an issue of lifestyle, not a housing arrangement.
Whether cohabitation exists is a question of fact to be determined by the court on a case-
Frequently cohabitation is described as a relationship with an unrelated person of the
opposite sex in a relationship tantamount to marriage. In my experience as a domestic
relations attorney in the Cleveland/Akron area, cohabitation is extremely difficult to prove
and, most often, not worth the time and expense associated with trying to prove it.
Ohio Revised Code §3119.88 sets forth the circumstances under which a child support
obligation should terminate. These circumstances are as follows:
- The child reaches the age of 18 and has graduated from or no longer attends high school on a full-time basis*;
- The child’s death;
- The child’s marriage;
- The child’s emancipation pursuant to a court order;
- The child’s enlistment in the armed services;
- The child’s deportation; or
- There is a change in legal custody of the child.
*The obligation for child support can continue once the child has reached the age of 18 so
long as the child continues to attend high school on a full-time basis. However, in this case,
the support cannot continue past the age of 19.
It is typically the obligation of the residential parent to notify the Child Support
Enforcement Agency of any reason why a child support obligation should terminate.
Although in my experience as a domestic relations attorney in the Cleveland/Akron area, it
is also a good idea for the non-residential parent to notify the Child Support Enforcement
Agency as well so that garnishment of the non-residential parent’s income can be stopped
before any overpayments are made. While the residential parent would be obligated to
return any overpayments, it is simply an unnecessary hassle (and possibly expense) which
can be avoided by a simple phone call.
Child support is determined on a case-by-case basis using a calculation provided in the
Ohio Revised Code §3119.022 and §3119.023. In my experience as a domestic relations
attorney in the Cleveland/Akron area, the information needed to complete most child
support calculations is the following: (1) the number of children subject to the support
order; (2) the gross annual income of each parent from all sources; (3) the cost of providing
health insurance coverage for the child(ren) only; (4) the cost of any employment-related
child care; (5) the number of additional children born to either parent and another
individual; and (6) whether either parent pays or receives spousal support to or from
either their current or a former spouse or child support for any other children born
to either parent and another individual. While other information may be necessary to
complete the calculation in each individual case (ie. the cost of union dues, the percentage
of local taxes in that area), this is the basic information which should be presented to your
attorney at the start of your case.
Unlike child support, there is no specific calculation for spousal support. Ohio Revised Code §3105.18
sets forth fourteen (14) factors to be considered by the Court in determining whether spousal support
is appropriate and reasonable and in determining the amount and length of the support award. The
factors are the following:
- The income of each party (from all sources);
- The earning ability of each party;
- The age and physical, mental and emotional condition of each party;
- The retirement benefits of each party;
- The length of the parties’ marriage;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The education of each party;
- The assets and liabilities of each party;
- The contribution of each party to the education, training and/or earning ability of the other;
- The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking support to acquire education, training or job experience necessary to allow them to obtain employment;
- The tax consequences for each party of an award of spousal support;
- The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from the parties’ marital responsibilities;
- Any other factor the court deems relevant and equitable.
Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §3105.18, spousal support (or what was formerly called alimony) is
a payment made directly to either a spouse or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse (ie. direct
payment of a mortgage). Ohio courts have the discretion to award spousal support in a divorce or a
legal separation when it is requested by one or both of the parties or after the court determines it to
be appropriate. The court has the authority to award both temporary and permanent spousal support.
Permanent spousal support means support for a period of time following the divorce or legal separation
Spousal support typically terminates at a specified time in the future, or upon the death of either
party, the remarriage of the spouse receiving spousal support, or cohabitation of the party receiving
spousal support. There are no “rules” for determining the term of a spousal support award, it varies
from county to county. Spousal support can be either non-modifiable or modifiable. If spousal support
is non-modifiable, the amount of support cannot be changed, it can only be terminated based upon
the above circumstances. If spousal support is modifiable, the amount of support can be increased or
decreased in accordance with the terms either agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court. For
example, spousal support may be modified in the event that one party loses his or her job.
Spousal support is taxable to the spouse who is receiving it and deductible to the spouse who is paying