Spousal Support

Unlike child support, which is calculated based upon a federally mandated formula, there is no formula when it comes to spousal support. Spousal support in Oregon is awarded based on what is “just and equitable,” and what may be just and equitable in any one marriage is highly fact specific.

How do Oregon courts determine what a fair and equitable amount of monthly spousal support looks like in each particular case? How long should such support last? Should the monthly payments decrease over time? If so, when? What happens if the support paying party loses their job? Or the support receiving party finds higher paying employment? Or if one or both parties remarry? Or retire?

To reach answers to the above questions, Oregon courts look at several factors: (1) the length of the marriage, (2) the income of both parties, (3) the division of other marital assets the parties may hold, (4) childcare expenses if minor children are involved, and (5) any other issues that may impact support. In more “traditional” marriages, where one spouse (often but not always the husband) is the main breadwinner, a court might award more spousal support then in a less “traditional” marriage where both parties work, and share household and child-raising duties to a greater or lesser degree.

Whether your marriage is “traditional,” a 50/50 split of marital duties, or any variation in between, Oregon courts presume that both partners have contributed equally to the marriage – whether that contribution is financial or based solely on a non-economic contribution.

Types of spousal support:

There are three types of spousal support in Oregon.

Transitional spousal support. Transitional spousal support is precisely what it sounds like – support for a limited period of time so that one spouse may find appropriate employment outside the home, or pursue education or training to increase their earning capacity if they are already employed. This type of spousal support, if awarded, is more typical for marriages of shorter duration (less than 10 years).

Maintenance spousal support. Maintenance spousal support is typically awarded in longer term marriages. Such support is calculated to enable both parties to individually maintain, as closely as possible, the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. Maintenance spousal support becomes especially important in situations where the non-breadwinning spouse may have been out of the workforce for 20 or 30 years, and it is unlikely that they will be able to find sufficiently remunerative — or any — employment after divorce.

Compensatory spousal support. Compensatory support is the least common of the three types of spousal support, and is awarded only for good cause. Compensatory spousal support may be awarded in situations where one spouse made significant contributions or sacrifices during the marriage in order to enable the career or the education of the other spouse – and therefore, benefited the marriage as a whole.