There are a number of persistent myths about family law that the Ohio Bar Association has addressed in articles published for consumers and attorneys. One such legend is that if a spouse commits adultery, he or she is doomed to lose everything in a divorce. (Adultery might well lead to a divorce, but it is not the determining factor in disputes over child custody or the distribution of assets.)
Other long-lasting myths: a wife and mother will always get child custody over a father and husband. A related tale in family law lore is that only wives can get spousal support, not their husbands.
The reality of spousal support (also known as alimony) is that courts examine more than a dozen factors when determining how much support (if any) should be awarded. Gender is not one of those factors.
The Bar Association notes that “the goal of spousal support is to reach an equitable result” and that there’s no formula for determining reasonable, appropriate support that is applied to all divorces. In other words, courts look at spousal support questions on a case by case basis.
However, the association concedes that there is an informal rule of thumb used by some family law judges that awards a year of spousal support for every three to five years of marriage. It’s also not unheard of for courts to include in a spousal support award, a provision that the support will end if the recipient remarries or lives with a partner.
In general, the association says, alimony is determined by consideration of several important factors: each spouse’s wages (and the discrepancy between the amounts) and each spouse’s monthly expenses. Other factors include education levels, earning capacity, standard of living and the health of the two people involved.
Discuss your priorities in divorce with an attorney experienced in effective family law dispute resolution.