Alimony and Spousal Support

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Spousal Support

Most people think of spousal support as "alimony" or a general distribution of income from one spouse to the other that is ordered during a divorce based on a courts sense of fairness.

Many years ago, that was true. Oregon Judges did have their own unwritten guidelines about when and how much alimony would be ordered. But these varied from county to county, and even from Judge to Judge. It inevitably lead to inconsistency in alimony awards.

Today, Oregon divorce laws are more definite as to when spousal support is proper. So there is more certainty in spousal support awards, though there is still a large degree of judgment and discretion that enters into an award of spousal support.

Basically, Oregon courts recognize three distinct types of spousal support. And there are some guidelines as to when each type of spousal support is appropriate. The three types of spousal support are:

  • Transitional Support
  • Compensatory Support
  • Maintenance Support

There are different philosophical reasons and legal basis to award these different types of spousal support. It's important to understand the legal reasons for awarding each type of support.

Transitional Spousal Support

Transitional Support is awarded as needed for a party to attain education and training necessary to allow for reentry into the job market or for advancement in their current position. The factors to be considered by the court in awarding transitional spousal support include but are not limited to:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • A party's training and employment skills;
  • A party's work experience;
  • The financial needs and resources of each party;
  • The tax consequences to each party;
  • A party's custodial and child support responsibilities; and
  • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

Compensatory Spousal Support

The court will award compensatory spousal support when there has been a significant financial or other contribution by one party to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning capacity of the other party and when an order for compensatory spousal support is otherwise just and equitable taking into consideration all of the facts of the individual case. The factors to be considered by the court in awarding compensatory spousal support include but are not limited to:

  • The amount, duration and nature of the contribution;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The relative earning capacity of the parties;
  • The extent to which the marital estate has already benefited from the contribution;
  • The tax consequences to each party; and
  • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

Spousal Maintenance

The most common type of support is spousal maintenance. It is mainly for an equitable distribution of the future earnings of the parties in order to address any general fairness issues. The court may award spousal maintenance as a contribution by one spouse to the support of the other for either a specific or an indefinite time period. The factors to be considered by the court in awarding spousal maintenance include but are not limited to:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age of the parties;
  • The health of the parties, including their physical, mental and emotional condition;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The relative income and earning capacity of the parties recognizing that the wage earner's continuing income may be a basis for support distinct from the income that the supported spouse may receive from the distribution of marital property;
  • A party's training and employment skills;
  • A party's work experience;
  • The financial needs and resources of each party;
  • The tax consequences to each party;
  • A party's custodial and child support responsibilities; and
  • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable

Consult with an Experienced Oregon Divorce Attorney

A quality family law attorney not only understands the difference in these types of support, but understands the philosophical reasons for each type. Such understanding is necessary in order to accurately evaluate your case to determine if one, or more, types of support is justified.

Harris Law Firm, P.C. is representing clients in Portland Oregon, and surrounding cities, for Family Law Call Us Today at 503-648-4777.

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