PROPOSED CHANGES and REASONING
Alimony/Spousal Support in Ohio and Most U.S. States:
Argument 1: All nuptial parties need to know the obligations of state-recognized marriage and divorce, and should at any time, have full rights to craft and/or amend their marriage agreement.
Problem 1: Newlyweds, especially younger couples, are extremely ill-aware of the extensive state-imposed post-marital financial obligations of divorce, which the state enforces even if a recipient breaches a marriage contract. But it's is very "anti-romantic" to discuss pre-nuptial agreements, due to the likely inferred "distrust". However, if all legal aspects of marriage are clear up front, fewer divorce conflicts will result, and couples will more intelligently structure their marriages and responsibilities. The state could actually SERVE couples well by being a third party that enforces a reasonable marital agreement. But instead, state marriage "contracts" today have little benefit except a minor (and inappropriate) tax break, but a huge downside for long-term providers. Automatic spousal support is a strong INCENTIVE for recipients to divorce payors. Providers get stuck with all the negatives of marriage, even jail threats, with no benefits. And marital contracts are only as good as the individuals anyway, so there's little upside to be a provider in legal marriage. The state is essentially an agent of marital destruction, conflict, and potential jailing of good parents. Government has no legitimate business governing personal affairs, assets, and spousal conflicts, unless there's criminal misbehavior, and is ill-equipped to do so in a fair manner.
Legal Solution 1: A clearly-worded pre-nuptial covenant shall be executed with every Ohio marriage license, and will be recognized as valid by the state of Ohio, and agreed by both marrying parties. This consideration shall be required by the state prior to legal marriages, and must at least comprise A) an agreed summary of any post marital obligations including spousal support, or waiver thereof, B) all personal or real property that would be excluded from marital division, C) a clear explanation of any other stipulations or conditions, D) Such covenants must be prepared and signed by both parties in the presence of an Ohio notary at least 30 days prior to granting any legal Ohio marriage. The parties shall have the option to modify, extinguish, or append their covenant at any time via MUTUAL agreement, whether before or after marriage.
Argument 2: Statute mandated alimony MUST specify a termination date, allowing payors a known date of finality, and the ability to retire from marital obligations at a normal and reasonable age.
Problem 2: No statute requires judges to stipulate in a divorce decree a payor's emancipation age, or a specific termination date of post-divorce spousal support obligations. This is necessary to enable true severance, and self-sufficiency of the "dependent", and finality. Current "laws" do not protect an unhealthy 90 year old payor from permanent
compulsory alimony obligations ordered to a young healthy recipient. Though age is ostensibly "considered", Ohio statutes are vague and deficient, relying solely on very diverse judges to interpret and administer. This is destined to be inconsistent. Currently, only the unpredictable and discretionary actions of a court can terminate "indefinite" support obligations without a "change of circumstance", usually in the form of financial hardship or a health issue. Sadly, that predisposes payors to serious pain prior to "justice". That's simply wrong, as a receiving party enjoys free funding with no obligation to self-support.
Legal Solution 2: Spousal support obligations, absent any legitimate arrearage, shall not extend beyond a provider's 62nd birthday. No social security, pension, stock options, retirement 401k, IRA, government assistance, or any income source already divided at the time of divorce, may be legally ordered or garnished to pay spousal support obligations.
Argument 3: As marital agreements are legally binding contracts, substantial breaches of contract (absent legitimate cause) should extinguish or reduce spousal support, to discourage misconduct.
Problem 3: No statute impacts the amount or duration of spousal support, even if the probable recipient breaches or abandons a marital contract or flagrantly violates marital obligations. Although "no fault" DIVORCE IS a legal and appropriate civil right, which allows relief from involuntary marital internment and long term unhappiness, it's crucial to legally differentiate the physical separation of divorce vs. mandating spousal support beyond a divorce. Forcing any person to to support another able adult alimony should NOT be automatic, but only via petition by a recipient, including a clear rationale. Absent consent by both parties, courts must provide the opportunity for a dissenting "would be" provider to present a full narrative and counter-argument prior to issuance of any support, as imposed servitude and indenturing violates civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Spousal support should rightfully be denied under certain circumstances, such as a recipient's voluntary abandonment of a legal marriage without legal cause. Spousal support, by its very name ( at least in Ohio), should rightfully be limited to the time period during marriage; and NOT beyond. Such awards comprise and promote windfall rewards for voluntary and flippant divorces by likely recipients. As such, relevant factors for denying alimony (spousal support) should rightfully include breaches of marital contracts and vows, including; voluntary marital abandonment, criminally abusive behaviors, non-condoned infidelity, and require a payor's absence of those misconducts. No party should be able to cheat, abuse, and bail from a marriage with half the marital assets, and then ALSO enjoy support at expense and fleece of a payor who committed no marital breach, crime, or substantial legal fault.
Legal Solution 3: A) Absent mutual agreement of the parties, to receive spousal support, any spouse who voluntarily files for divorce must prove egregious legal fault or violation of marital obligations of the probable obligor. Further, the probable recipient must have committed no such faults themselves. Faults could include one or more of the following proven chronic or acute behaviors of the provider against the opposite spouse: serious criminal abuse, unprovoked violence that has resulted in bodily harm, overt and proven threats of serious violence, criminal neglect or endangerment, proven and substantial uncondoned financial infidelity, harmful addictions that impact a spouse or the marital children, or at least one proven or admitted instance of non-condoned adultery. In such instances, no support of ANY duration or amount shall be awarded if there is already ordered or effectuated an equitable split of marital assets and equity. B) Likewise, no obligor who HAS committed any of mentioned misbehaviors shall be immune from paying a finite, rightful, and fair rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony to the aggrieved partner who did NOT commit similar acts during the marriage. C) No spousal award orders may violate ammendment 13 of the U.S. Constitution or any other provision of the U.S. constitution. D) Spousal support may only be awarded after an abandoned obligor has had ample opportunity to present all counterarguments regarding support payments, with the appeal opportunity lasting at least 6 months to discover the finances and records of any suspected paramours. E) There shall be the opportunity to present new evidence or significant changes of circumstance ANY TIME during the term of ordered payments. F) A payor will be allowed to have a DIFFERENT magistrate or judge hear any new material, if a payor suspects prejudice or legal bias, or an Appeals court remands a case back to the trial court.
Argument 4: Statutes should not financially reward "gold digging".
Problem 4: No statute discourages a person from seeking a wealthy partner to legally marry and then quickly divorce to pillage assets and/or "legally" abscond compulsory post-marriage income from the wealthier person, and which exceeds the premarital living standards of the recipient. Income-based post-divorce support creates a strong incentive for people to attempt that scenario. Laws fail to discourage such misbehavior, AND in fact legally promote it via large support income windfalls, versus limiting settlements to a rightful and equitable split of the jointly-created assets or income.
Legal Solution 4: Spousal support awards shall not be automatic or based purely on an income disparity at the time of divorce, for marriages less than ten years, but only upon proof that a recipient clearly and directly caused significant advance of the provider's earnings and/or earning power. Division of marital assets shall be limited to the equity, personal property, or real property legitimately and jointly created, accumulated, or escalated during the marriage.
Argument 5: Statutes providing judicial guidance must be clear, predictable, transparent, consistent within all Ohio jurisdictions, and include all complete and relevant determinants. These determinants must be consistently and appropriately weighted as to the importance of each factor in establishing amount and duration of post-divorce spousal support. "Judicial discretion" and deviations should be allowed only for extreme or unusual circumstances, with explicit rationale and legal explanation for any such deviations, and a substantial opportunity and calendar time for full circumstances to be fully considered prior to the finality of any spousal support order.
Problem 5: No current or carefully crafted statute determines a predictable calculation method for spousal support duration and amounts. Instead, vague, incomplete, non-weighted factors for calculating spousal support are only judicial "considerations". This comprises ambiguity and poor guidance for judges, with excessive latitude. Without solid and explicit rules, excessive "judicial discretion" is hugely subject to human opinion, emotion, error, bias, and quirkiness; all which now significantly impact life-changing support terms and enable substantial variability within jurisdictions.
Legal Solution 5: Post-divorce spousal support amount and duration shall be established by clear, complete, fair, and statutes, which include explicitly weighted determinants (thereby removing judicial discretion from the vast majority of cases). Explicit, under-oath written affidavits of the parties, including the specific cause of the divorce, which party is petitioning; details of any criminal history committed by either party during a marriage that adversely impacted a spouse, or proven non-condoned infidelity, or domestic violence, or proven mental abuse, or substance abuse, or abandonment of a spouse, or criminal neglect of a spouse, or proven financial infidelity, or other egregious legal indiscretions; child custody responsibilities of each party, any prenuptial agreements, the incomes of each party, marriage duration, health of the parties, and any other relevant factors disclosed by the parties. Full rebuttal of any claims by an opposite party must be considered prior to rendering a judgment of support.
Argument 6: As with public support programs, private spousal support should require capable recipients to diligently train, seek, and obtain the highest level of gainful employment possible without delay, to promote self-sufficiency and discourage protraction of support due to lack of motivation.
Problem 6: No statute requires alimony recipients to self-support, or show continuous effort to do so, or to obtain job training while receiving the support. This legally occurs while payers who may have lost their employment and income, must prove THEY they're actively seeking re-employment, even if they are being forced to support a likely capable ex-spouse, and while the amount "owed" escalates, despite the best efforts of a payor. Many payors end up in jail or with non extinguishable debt and/or poverty, orforced to live on the fringes. This is unfair treatment punishes payers who committed no misbehavior, while allowing a free ride for lazy recipients, even those being supported by paramours.
Legal Solution 6: Absent unequal or extenuating child care responsibilities, health issues, other legitimate and substantial burdens, spousal support recipients must demonstrate continuous and diligent efforts to seek and train for full time employment to self-sustain while receiving obligatory support. If documented diligent efforts to self support are not demonstrated monthly, spousal support terminates, or a reasonable income imputed to reduce the level of compulsory support. Support shall automatically be reassessed ech year or upon request by any payor whose circumstances have changed, and in no case shall support extend beyond two years from commencement of the support.
Argument 7: No loyal marital partner should suffer hardship such as foreclosure or eviction from his/her primary residence, bankruptcy, or other financial calamities that did not exist prior to the imposition of supporting a former spouse NOT suffering such hardships or who has other support.
Problem 7: No statute prevents excessive alimony amounts and duration from exacerbating the financial destruction of a payer, via inextinguishable debt; even despite bankruptcy, foreclosure, and homelessness. To avert jail and other sanctions due to compulsory alimony, providers/payers/parents often must work excessive hours, suffer reduced living standards, or take on new debt to unfairly sustain a higher lifestyle of another adult. Current laws require calamity and/or job loss to actually happen to a payor before any support modification, versus preventing such calamities via fair laws.
Legal Solution 7: No alimony payer who faces unearned bankruptcy or foreclosure of a primary or long-term residence due to spousal support, and which hardships did not exist prior to the divorce, shall be forced to pay alimony to a recipient not facing similar hardship. Bankruptcy of a payor shall extinguish spousal support debt, the same as any other qualifying personal civil debts. Social security, disability payments, qualified government aid, and already-divided retirement and pension accounts shall NOT be subject to, or jeopardized by madatory support obligations.
Argument 8: Support should be established by a brief period of a payer's highest and/or potentially unsustainable income, nor awarded because a spouse has historically enjoyed a cushy married life.
Problem 8: Statutes unfairly and incorrectly establish support often based on brief periods of potentially unsustainable income, and do not impute potential income by able-bodied recipients who should self support. Current statutes create unreasonably high awards based on entitlement, versus what recipients actually need or genuinely deserve (dependent upon a recipient's fault, and lack of provider fault). Artificially high awards often place payers into immediate hardship, encourage recipient indolence, and creates incentive to divorce for a free paycheck. Spousal support far exceeds what is offered by most corporate severance packages, and is mandated even upon voluntarily exit from marriage.
Legal Solution 8: Alimony awards shall be established by a standard and reasonable living allowance, with a maximum award established by the average per capita income of the state, awarded only in the event of an income disparity of more than threefold (payor vs recipient), and never in any case greater than thirty percent of a payor's income. The duration of compulsory spousal support shall never exceed one month for every year of marriage, and shall in no circumstance extend beyond three years of a divorce, regardless of marriage duration. No spousal support shall be awarded to any spouse who quits a marriage absent the proven legal fault of the payor, or extremely extenuating circumstances to be proven by the would be recipient.
Argument 9: Spousal support should NOT be a default windfall above division of marital assets.
Problem 9: No statute prohibits default support from being an unjust windfall to an abandoning spouse, even if an abandoning recipient spouse already receives an equitable share of valuable marital assets that were jointly accumulated.
Legal Solution 9: If an equitable division of marital assets and liabilities is already agreed by the parties or justly ordered by a court without appeal, and the provider having no marital fault or breach of the marital contract did not abandon the marriage or instigate divorce, no default alimony shall be awarded to a spouse who petitions for divorce.
Argument 10: No mentally or physically disabled person should be forced to support another able adult, and no loyal marital party disabled during marriage should be financially abandoned.
Problem 10: No statute sets forth specific spousal support rules pertaining to the health of the divorcing parties. Although health is listed as an ostensible "consideration", A) A healthy unfaithful provider,under the sole discretion of a judge, may be currently be released from supporting a faithful, yet abandoned or abused partner who has failing health. B) A disabled or unhealthy partner may currently unfairly be ordered to support a healthy recipient.
Legal Solution 10: A) No payer shall be released from the reasonable support of a loyal, non-abusive and non-self-destructive disabled partner who has no other means of earning income, if directly resulting from provent sacrifices of financial earning capability during the marriage. B) No legitimately disabled payer who is disabled through no self fault shall pay compulsory spousal support to a former partner.
Argument 11: Spousal support beyond marriage should be legally subordinate to child support, with non-payment of spousal support not criminally punishable.
Problem 11: Non payment of post-divorce spousal support due to a voluntary marriage is quite unlike negelecting of a minor who had no birth choice. Yet current statutes treat both as a crime, invoking single-sided post-marital nonextinguisahable obligations where only payors, regardless of marital fault are unconstitutionally threatened with imprisonment and forced to support another able adult. Recipient spouses may, even after breaching a marital contract, receive a full split of marital assets, savings, property, AND long periods of extended spousal support with NO obligation to self-sustain; free to idle and fornicate with impunity, while payers often toil to survive simply to stay free.
Legal Solution 11: No provider, who to the best of their ability DOES pay child their support obligations shall be criminally punished or incarcerated solely for their inability or failure to pay spousal support.
Argument 12: Spousal support, if any, should neither exceed an amount paid for child support, nor should financial indenturement to fund an able adult thwart any payer from an ability to parent and support his/her children without incurring debt. Child support should directly benefit the children, and be subject to misappriation by an unresponsible adult recipient.
Problem 12: Courts currently order payors to remit high amounts of spousal support, punishing them as criminals for non-payment, and no statute distinguishes or prioritizes child support over spousal support, or ensures child payments directly benefit the children. Spousal support of a capable adult is not the same urgency as child support, as minors are often incapable of supporting themselves, yet there is no legal distinction. Excessive burden of a responsible parent and payor to support an ex spouse, can weaken or disable a responsible parent from providing for and housing their own children, especially in shared parenting situations. Distributing income between the two parents does not necessarily benefit the children, and can actually harm them by advantaging the irresponsible parent, with the recipients quite often being poor stewards of finances. Absent a more responsible or ethical parent, due to extended work obligations to support a former spouse, actually harms children and is unfair to the responsible and ethical parent. There is no statute that mandates or regulates that child support directly benefits the marital children.
Legal Solution 12: A) No parent who has essentially equally shared parenting time shall pay any child support to the opposite parent. B) No parent who pays child support for marital children or who shares in caring for marital children, shall pay spousal support to any able adult in any amount greater than the calculated amount for supporting ONE child dependent. In such instance, the spousal support shall be awarded only upon legitimate proof by a recipient that the support is deserved, legitimately reimbursive, or rehabilitative in nature. These same conditions shall apply to the duration of support, in no case extending beyond the date on which the last marital child emancipates, OR a MAXIMUM of two years beyond divorce, whichever is less, and subject to all other statutes regulating spousal support. C) Inability to pay spousal support shall NOT be criminally punishable. D) Child support recipients must use child support for the direct benefit the children, drawing those funds from an escrow account to be used only for a child's direct essential needs, and accessed only via sworn affidavit of such, and under penalties of fraud at the time of withdrawal for false statements and actual use. Any unused funds shall be returned to the payor at the end of each calendar year. E) No parent who did not file for divorce, was faithful in marriage, and for legitimate reasons has inadequate income to live without incurring debt, and who has at least partial custody of minor marital child(ren), shall not be denied reasonable rehabilitative spousal support of reasonable duration per the periods mentioned.
Argument 13: Spousal support obligations should not create single-sided protracted obligations that inhibit either party from move forward, and no obligations to a terminated marriage should adversely impact, obligate, or reward a future marital partner.
Problem 13. Spousal support statutes currently allow only one of the two parties to truly divorce free of obligation,as compulsory spousal support obligations often survive marriage. This usurps genuine severance, regardless of who was at marital fault, and is inequitable. Spousal support inhibits both parties from remarrying. Extended obligations burden payors, causes conflict,resentment, anger, despair, and even creates mental illness and health issues, and (sometimes indefinitely) delays divorce recovery for the payor. Payors are financially disadvantaged for many years, and their future spouse's income placed at risk to obligations of a new partner's prior marriage, also unreasonable and creating a severe disincentive for a new partner to marry a person shackled with spousal support. On the other side, a recipient of spousal support will logically avoid legal remarriage and termination of free money, often to vindictively fleece a former marital partner. Rewarding such behavior creates dependency, laziness, injustice, conflict, fraud, and abuses the intent of spousal support.
Legal Solution 13. A) Post marital settlements and obligations shall consider the cause of divorce, the value of equities of the assets already divided, factors of marital fault or abandonment, and all relevant factors, with all obligations and settlements concluding to the greatest possible extent upon the divorce date, to effect finality versus a protracted marital obligation. B) Any need for spousal support shall be petitioned under oath, with an assertion that no aid is being received by any third party paramour, with a punitive clause for fraud, including triple damages for such willful misbehavior inflicted upon a payor, and which penalty shared between both the fraudulent spouse and any accomplice to the fraudulent behaviors, including the paramour. C) No subsequent spouse's income or assets shall be subject to the spousal or child support obligations of a previous marriage, nor considered to impact any obligor's support.
Argument 14: Absent serious or dangerous legal causes, such as domestic violence or other criminal behavior, pre-divorce marriage counseling and/or settlement mediation over a period of at least six months should preclude divorce proceedings to enable a cool down period.
Problem 14. Legal marriages are easily and flippantly terminated, often for wrongful reasons, including greed and lust, and with no financial consequence to a party who voluntarily abandons legal marriage. Without reasonable and unbiased mediation as a prerequisite, litigated divorce and the protracted emotional distress often destroys people, finances, family, and children's college funds, and causes other malignant societal issues including substance abuse and violence.
Legal Solution 14. No divorce shall be granted prior to six months after filing by one or both married parties, without proof of marriage counseling, absent chronic or acute violence, neglect, or other factors that constitute health and safety risks of either party. Mediation by an unbiased third party during said period shall also be required prior to a litigated divorce.
But the states routinely violate the U.S. Constitution. Ohio and most other states force divorced providers to pay a spouse LONG after a divorce, after all marital assets are divided. This involuntary indenturement (with a REAL threat of physical jail for not paying) is essentially a form of economic slavery. And even if a support recipient clearly breached a marital "contract", they bear no obligation or consequence. Instead they get PAID!
Alimony (aka "Spousal Support"), with all it financial consequences, including punishment for non-remittal, is the very essence of involuntary servitude.
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13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.
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Problems - Solutions - Guidance
to Improve Ohio Statutes
We welcome your constructive suggestions and new ideas, additional arguments, counter-arguments, and suggested modifications to the ideas presented,
with the intention and ultimate result being a fairness to ALL.
Your input can help revise or strengthen the statutes to create good laws that promote peace, enable finality, cause people to trust marriage again, promote family well-being, and discourage "gaming the system" and gold digging. This allows all parties to restart their lives in a peaceful way, and retain hope for a better future.
Please follow the "Problem + Solution" format when offering suggestions, and for each problem, we ask that you propose a fair solution. Please send your suggestions and thoughts, along with your own horror stories, to our email:
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