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Spousal Support

Spousal support is money one spouse pays the other during or after a divorce or separation case. In other states it is called alimony.  

Usually, one spouse pays a fixed amount of money every month for a specific length of time. For example, your spouse may have to pay you $1,000 per month for four years.  

Sometimes, spousal support is paid all at once in a lump sum. For example, a spouse may be told to pay the other spouse $50,000.  

In Oregon, there are three types of spousal support: 

  1. Maintenance, 
  2. Transitional, and 
  3. Compensatory. 

These three types will be discussed more in the sections below.

You can ask the court for spousal support if you or your spouse are filing court papers to get a divorce or legal separation.

The court can order either spouse to pay spousal support.

If you are the person starting the case, you can ask for spousal support in your divorce petition or in your legal separation petition. A petition is a legal document that starts a divorce or legal separation case. It is a wish list of what you want to happen in the case. If you want spousal support, ask for this in your petition.   

If you were served with divorce or separation papers you can ask for spousal support in your response. A response is a legal document that tells the court what you disagree with in your spouse’s petition. It can also include a wish list of what you want to happen in the case.  

No. If the court did not order spousal support in the original divorce or separation case, you cannot get spousal support after your divorce or separation case.

It depends. Divorce and separation cases can take months to more than a year. In most cases, you won’t get spousal support until you have a final judgment in your case. A judgment is the court document that ends your divorce case and lists all the rules of your divorce.  

Because divorce cases can take a long time, you can ask the court to order temporary support. Temporary support means one spouse pays the other while the case is ongoing, until there is a final judgment. To ask for temporary support, you can use the Pre-Judgment Temporary Orders packet of forms from Oregon’s state court website.  

It depends. Oregon does not have a calculator or formula to help judges decide how much support should be paid, or for how long. A judge looks at certain factors based on the type of support you want.     

There are no set rules about when a spouse can get spousal support or how much payments should be.  For example, in one case, spousal support payments might be only $200 per month, while in another case, the payments could be $3,000 per month because the couple had more money. It depends on your own situation, needs, and finances. 

There are three kinds of spousal support in Oregon:  

  1. Transitional 
  2. Compensatory, and 
  3. Maintenance. 

In your court papers (usually your divorce petition, legal separation petition, or response), you must say if you want spousal support or disagree with spousal support. The court can order one or more kinds of support. Read more about the different types of support below.  

Transitional support helps pay for education or training so that a divorced spouse can find work, change careers, or get ahead in the job market.  When a judge decides if a spouse should pay transitional support, the judge considers:  

  1. The length of the marriage;
  2. Each spouse’s financial needs and resources;
  3. Each spouse’s job training, work experience, and employment skills;
  4. Child-raising responsibilities;
  5. Child support payments, and
  6. Other relevant factors.

Compensatory support repays a spouse who made a major financial or other contribution to the paying spouse’s education, training, or earning ability. For example, when one spouse worked hard and supported their spouse through medical school.  

 When a judge decides if a spouse should pay compensatory support, the judge considers: 

  1. The length of the marriage; 
  2. How the couple’s property will be divided;
  3. The amount of financial or other support that one spouse provided to the other spouse;
  4. Each spouse's potential future income; and
  5. Other relevant factors. 

Maintenance support helps a spouse keep the lifestyle that the couple had during the marriage. When a judge decides if a spouse should pay maintenance support, the judge considers: 

  1. The length of the marriage;
  2. Each spouse’s training, skills, and work experience;
  3. The age of the spouses;
  4. Each spouse’s financial needs and resources;
  5. Health of the parties (physical, mental, and emotional);
  6. Custody and child support responsibilities;
  7. Standard of living during the marriage;
  8. Each spouse's potential future income; and
  9. Other relevant factors. 

It depends. Usually, spousal support is paid every month for a specific amount of time. The length of time depends on your situation. The court can order monthly payments paid for a few months, a few years, or for the rest of a person’s life.  

Sometimes spousal support is paid in a lump sum. 

There is no standard formula or calculator for spousal support in Oregon. Either the spouses agree about how much and how long support lasts, or a judge decides.  

Yes. A judge considers many details in deciding whether to order spousal support, how much, and for how long. Just because a spouse can work, it doesn’t mean they can’t receive spousal support. 

Yes. Either ex-spouse can ask the court to change spousal support payments if there is a major, unexpected change in your financial situation. You can ask the court to: 

  • Lower support,  
  • Increase support, 
  • Extend the length of support, or  
  • End support.  

Yes. You must ask the court for a change before your spousal support stops. For example, if your spousal support stops after three years, you must ask for a change, by turning in papers with the court, within that three-year period. 

The person who wants to change spousal support must turn in papers with the court. If your ex-spouse disagrees with the request to change support, the court will schedule a hearing. A hearing is a court date where you and your ex-spouse can talk to a judge, present evidence, and get a decision about a change in spousal support.     

If you need to change spousal support payments, you can use the “Motion Requesting Modification” court forms on this page of Oregon’s state court website.  

Spousal support payments end when either spouse dies.

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