Spousal support is money that a court orders a party to pay to a former spouse to help that spouse meet his or her needs. Spousal support is not awarded in every divorce case and may only be ordered in a case involving a marriage (not in a paternity case or a case involving custody between unwed parties).
An award of spousal support is not based on a formula like child support. Spousal support in Oregon is based upon what is "just and equitable under the circumstances." This is a very broad standard that allows a court to consider the parties’ individual circumstances. The court will consider if spousal support is appropriate in the first place, and if so, how much should be awarded and for how long. The court is guided in its analysis by the consideration of several factors established by the Oregon legislature including:
There are three kinds of spousal support in Oregon: transitional, compensatory and maintenance. Whether a court will consider one form of support versus the others depends on the parties’ circumstances. Often the court will award more than one form of spousal support or blend of these forms of support.
Transitional spousal support is an amount of money one party is directed to pay to the other party to allow that party to obtain education or training necessary to allow them to prepare for reentry into the job market or for advancement. This type of support is commonly awarded in shorter or mid-length marriages where a party may need additional resources for a limited time to become gainfully employed and to "transition" into unmarried life without the support of their former spouse or partner.
Compensatory spousal support is generally awarded in circumstances where one party has made a significant financial (or other type of contribution) to their spouse or partner’s education, training, vocational skills, career or earning capacity or where one party is given substantially more value in property during the divorce and there are no other assets to "offset" the property award. This type of support is not as common as the other forms of spousal support but depends on the parties’ circumstances.
Maintenance spousal support, or spousal maintenance, is generally awarded in a long-term marriage where there is a significant gap between the earning capacity of the parties, the gap which will probably never be closed, or where a party may lack the ability to gain meaningful employment in the future. The fundamental goal of maintenance support is to enable the parties to live separately at a standard of living comparable to that enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. Maintenance spousal support may be awarded either for a specified or indefinite period of time.
This can be a complicated area of the law. For more information, please contact a Bend family law attorney at Baxter Harder, LLC.
Here are some helpful links for further reading: