You will encounter a number of expenses in the process of ending your marriage. Not only do you have to pay attorney’s fees, court costs, and charges for filing paperwork, many others follow in the wake of divorce. In many cases, the court awards spousal support to your ex.
There are expenditures associated with setting up a new home, your tax status changes, and you may wind up paying all the bills from a single paycheck for the first time in years. If there are children involved, you may have to pay child support. But when the court orders spousal support, this is one of the biggest expenses.
What Is Spousal Support?
Also called alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is court-ordered payments intended to help a dependent spouse get back on their feet or ease financial hardship.
After the property division has been handled, if one spouse has additional needs, spousal support often plays a part.
If each side is able to maintain roughly the same lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage, this may not come to pass. But if there is a substantial gap or other factors, it often does.
Related Reading: Dividing Debt During Divorce in Oregon
What Factors Affect Support Payment Amounts?
The court considers many things when determining spousal support. Among others the list includes:
- Length of the marriage.
- Standard of living experienced during the marriage.
- Age of the requesting spouse.
- If one spouse financially supported the other.
- If a spouse has a physical disability.
- The mental and emotional health of the dependent party.
- Outstanding financial obligations.
Related Reading: How is Property Divided in Divorce?
What Types Of Spousal Support Are There?
Oregon has three types of spousal support. Less formulaic than child support, the amount and duration of the payments vary a great deal depending on the situation. In most cases, the number is based on need and what is just and equitable given the circumstances.
Transitional spousal support is precisely what it sounds like. It’s awarded to one party in order to help smooth over the move from married back to single life. Shorter in duration and not usually as long a commitment, this is most common in brief and mid-length marriages.
Transitional support usually comes into play to help one spouse get training or education that aids in advancing job prospects and earning potential.
Related Reading: Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce
Less common than the transitional variety, the court may award compensatory support in some cases. If the division of property skews substantially to one party, this comes into play.
In situations where one party contributed a great deal to the career and future financial prospects of the other, the judge may also award this. For example, if you worked full-time to support your partner through college. Then the court may order this.
Of the three types, this is the least common.
Related Reading: What You Should Know About the Cost of Divorce
When it comes to longer marriages, the court often mandates you or your spouse pay maintenance support. This type of payment is awarded most often when there is a sizeable disparity in earning power. In many cases, this is a gap that may never close.
The court can order temporary maintenance support, but these payments continue indefinitely and remain open-ended. This is especially true when one spouse may be unable to find suitable future employment due to health issues or other reasons.
While these are the three types of spousal support, the court can also award a combination. For example, the court may order larger payments during the post-divorce transition period. But once situations become more settled, that may shift to a smaller amount.
Related Reading: Support Modification Facts
How Are Spousal Support Payments Taxed?
The sweeping tax plan Congress passed at the end of 2017 made changes to divorce settlements, specifically how the government taxes spousal support.
Prior to December 31, 2018, these payments constituted income for the receiving party. The government taxed them as such. These financial disbursements were considered an ‘above-the-line’ deductible for the paying spouse.
As of January 1, 2019, for new court orders that include spousal support provisions, the party paying spousal support is not able to deduct this amount. Instead, the recipient must pay taxes on this amount.
So, if you have an order in place before 2019, the old regulations still apply. If you want to modify a pre-existing court order spousal support will be subject to the new laws.
Related Reading: Creating an Effective Divorce Strategy
What if One Spouse Remarries?
In general, spousal support doesn’t automatically change in cases where either party remarries. Even if the household income drastically shifts.
In some cases, the court may alter the original agreement, but if you’re looking for this, you generally have to file a case to modify the existing orders. To accomplish this, you must prove a substantial change in circumstances. But even then, courts are often reluctant to change a preexisting order.
In the best of circumstances, support modification is still a long, expensive uphill battle.
Related Reading: Can My Ex Come After My New Spouse’s Income?
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Because spousal support modification is so difficult, it’s critical to be vigilant when establishing it in the first place.
Once the amount is set, it can be time-consuming and costly to alter. So be patient and make sure you completely understand the situation before signing anything.
Financial matters following divorce have a huge impact on your life moving forward. No one wants to start their next chapter in a hole. As things can become so tangled, it will likely be in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney. This may give you the best chance for an optimal outcome.
Related Reading: Has The Divorce Rate Ever Been 50%? Nope.
I am starting spousal support now as a direct deposit. Is there a way for the deposit to be made in a pre tax manner or does the full amount need to be deposited?
Hi Brian, it’s funny you should ask that. With the new tax plan set to take effect next year, spousal support is actually in for some big changes when it comes to taxes. (Read this blog post for more info: https://www.goldbergjones-or.com/divorce/new-tax-plan-divorce/) In the meantime, I passed your contact information along to Colin Amos, our managing attorney. He’ll reach out soon and be able to give you some more concrete, specific ways to handle your situation. Best.
I. Would like to end my spousal support after 18 years of paying.
Hi Donald. Thanks for reaching out! I passed your contact information on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney. He’ll be in touch soon and be able to give you an idea of your what options you have.
should I be paying tax on the spousal support I pay my husband? Ive been paying taxes on it all 2017. It does not make sense to me that both me and my ex would pay tax on his support
The new tax laws only impact new orders that occur after the new year. Orders already in place should remain as they were. Though if they’re altered down the road, they’re subject to the new regulations.
I was divorced in 2011. My attorney added my spousal support to my child support. Which means I now have nothing stating I was awarded spousal support. Our sons now live with their father which means I no longer get either spousal or child support. I am disabled and fighting that fight and could really use the help. Can I file mofication with the courts? I am living with my significant other so he is our only source of income.
That sounds like a tough situation, Sandra. Thanks for reaching out. I passed your contact information on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney, and he will reach out to you shortly to let you know how we can help!
good day my name is Bobby sr I been paying this spousal since 2006 and lost three times in court my lawyer failed me on this problem I been disabled since 2014 due to knee replacement on my left knee and consider to have a knee replacement on my right knee my age 60 years old and I’m distress and feel that I don’t have a life the ex wife was remarried in the past and still pay her spousal support I fill like the law is very corrupt and it wasn’t my lost on this marriage I work all my life on hard labor work and now I’m disable and retire for the moment what can I do to be free because I’m on a fix income I feel like I can’t get the law to understand the ex wife play me for money.
Hi Bobby, thanks for the question. Modifying spousal support is difficult in the best of times, and a lot goes into it. At the very least, it’s a process. I passed your contact information on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney. He will reach out to you directly to discuss your case, get more specific information on your situation, and hopefully see how we can help you and what options you may have.
The GJ Team
I would like to discuss modifying alimony and child support payments.
Your contact info has been passed on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney, and he will reach out to you shortly. He’ll be able to answer your during a free phone consultation and give you an idea of how to move forward.
Or, if you prefer, you can give our office a call at (503) 731-8888 and we can set something up.
Another option is to fill out a free online case review and we will get in touch. You can do that here: https://www.goldbergjones-or.com/free-case-review/
The Goldberg Jones Team