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What is Spousal Support?
Oregon courts can order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other. Spousal support’s purpose is to help meet the receiving spouse’s future financial needs. Oregon Courts can order (1) transitional spousal support, (2) maintenance spousal support, and (3) compensatory spousal support.
What Are the Different Types of Spousal Support?
Transitional spousal support is to help the recipient adjust to re-entry into the job market and become self-sufficient through any necessary training and additional education. Transitional support is paid for a fixed period to help the recipient obtain additional training and education.
Spousal maintenance support is paid to address a wide disparity in earning capacity between spouses, and to address disparities between lifestyle while married and post-divorce. Spousal maintenance is paid for either a specific duration or an indefinite duration.
Less common than transitional and maintenance spousal support is compensatory support. Compensatory support is to compensate a spouse who has significantly contributed to the education, training, or career of the other spouse. Compensatory support might be ordered where one spouse supports the other during training for a lucrative career in business, medicine, or other doctoral program, and they divorce before supporting spouse benefitting from the investment in the career of the other.
How is the Amount of Spousal Support Determined?
Most of the time divorcing spouses with or without lawyer agree to an amount of spousal support. If there is no agreement, the court can order spousal support if it is the fair thing to do.
Unlike child support, there is no formula to determine what one spouse may agree or be ordered to pay the other. Instead, the court looks to a list of considerations to determine a just and equitable amount of support.
Are There Tax Consequences to Paying or Receiving Spousal Support?
Before 2019, spousal support was paid with before-tax dollars and received as taxable income. As of 2019, all spousal support awards are paid with after-tax dollars and received as tax free income. The switch has resulted in slightly lower spousal support awards because the benefits of shifting income between spouses in different tax brackets was eliminated.
Is Spousal Support Set in Stone or Can It Be Modified?
Unless the parties agree that spousal support is non-modifiable, the default rule is that spousal support can be modified if there is an unanticipated change in financial circumstances for either spouse after divorce. Examples of situations where modification may be considered is the retirement or remarriage or a former spouse, losing a job or a substantial increase in the income of the former spouse receiving support.