Known as spousal support in Oregon, alimony is a payment made by one spouse to provide financial assistance to the other during and after a divorce. Whether you’re thinking of filing for divorce or you’re already receiving alimony or spousal support, it’s important to know how much (if any) you may be entitled to receive. Our family law attorneys at Johnson and Taylor explain how alimony works in Oregon and how a divorce lawyer can ensure your arrangement is fair.
Types of Alimony in Oregon
There are three types of spousal support in Oregon. Each one serves a specific purpose.
- Transitional spousal support may be ordered for example to enable one spouse to attend school or a training program to improve their career opportunities and earning capacity.
- Compensatory spousal support may be ordered for example to a spouse who helped fund the other’s higher education so they could get a degree that increased their earning capacity. Common examples of this include obtaining a Ph.D., an MBA, or a medical or law degree.
- Maintenance support may be ordered for example when one spouse has a higher-earning capacity than the other spouse to enable the other spouse to continue a standard of living similar to what they had during the marriage. It’s more commonly ordered when a divorce involves a long-term marriage.
How Is Spousal Support Determined in Oregon?
There is no set formula for determining alimony payments in Oregon. Ideally, if you and your spouse are on decent terms, your divorce lawyer can analyze both parties’ finances and negotiate a fair amount of spousal support in your divorce settlement. If alimony must be ordered by the court, a judge has discretion in what they can consider. Some factors that they often consider are:
- The length of the marriage
- Age and health status
- Each spouse’s financial needs and resources
- The requesting spouse’s employment skills, work experience, and earning potential
- Which spouse has custody of the children and who pays child support
Spousal support is most often awarded in situations where there is a significant income or earning capacity disparity between spouses. Courts try to enable each spouse to live at a comparable standard to what they enjoyed during their marriage. To ensure you receive the full amount of alimony to which you may be entitled, it’s crucial to have an experienced family law attorney advocate for you in court.
Questions About Alimony in Oregon
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you better understand how much you may receive in alimony, and for how long.
- Can alimony be modified? Spousal support payments can be increased, reduced, or terminated in some cases. When there’s a significant change in the financial status of either party, they can petition the court for a modification. Common reasons for modifying a spousal support order include a decrease or increase in income, job loss, illness, retirement, and remarriage. However, if alimony was not included in your final divorce settlement or judgment, you cannot go to court and ask for it later.
- Can alimony be paid in a lump sum? In Oregon, spousal support may be paid in a single lump payment or in installments, which are typically paid monthly. Maintenance support usually is paid monthly, while a judge may order a lump sum to be paid for compensatory or transitional support. This varies according to the specific circumstances.
- Is alimony paid indefinitely? Typically, a divorce judgment will include a date when spousal support payments will end. Depending on the situation, it may be ordered for an indefinite period or a few years.
- Does alimony have tax consequences? Yes, but determining what they are can be complicated. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), the receiving spouse had to declare alimony payments as income to the IRS and on income state tax returns, and payments were tax-deductible for the paying spouse. However, in divorce settlement agreements dated Jan. 1, 2019, or later, alimony payments are not deductible by the paying spouse, and the receiving spouse does not have to report spousal support as taxable income. If you’re uncertain about how alimony and child support payments may affect your tax liability, talk to a tax professional or your child support lawyer.
How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The best way to ensure you’re getting the full amount of alimony you may be entitled to receive or paying the correct amount to your ex is to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer who knows the ins and out of divorce law and spousal support in Oregon can protect your rights and interests and provide compassionate legal support throughout the process.
Contact Our Family Law Attorneys in Oregon
Johnson and Taylor litigates personal injury, divorce and family law and estate planning and probate cases. Our divorce and family and estate planning and probate lawyers serve clients in Marion, Polk, and Linn County and other surrounding communities. Our caring, dedicated team includes Spanish-speaking attorneys who understand that hashing out issues such as alimony and child support can be challenging. Contact us online or call us at 503-990-6641 to schedule a consultation.