Calculation of Spousal Support and Child Support
Interviewer: Here’s a question I haven’t asked yet. How is spousal maintenance and child support calculated mathematically?
Adam: For the child support there’s an actual software program that will calculate the amount. The amount will be based on both parents’ income. With spousal support, there’s no set way to calculate it and it can vary extremely.
Basically, it’s going to come down to how long were the parties married and what level of income did they had There are a number of criteria. It’s very, very flexible. I believe there are 23 different types of criteria they look at, such as education, age and mobility to name a few.
Interviewer: That’s good information.
Adam: Yes, some people aren’t aware of this.
Are There Limitations on the Dollar Amount of Support?
Interviewer: What if the number that is determined is a very high percentage of one person’s income? Are there limits on how much it can be?
Adam: There is possibly no limitation that could be placed on it. If somebody makes $10,000 more a year than their spouse, they’re going to have to give up close to half of that. Again, it could vary. It could be just, maybe, $2,000 or all the way up to $8,000.
Interviewer: Have you seen situations where the husband’s making $80,000 a year and he has to pay $50,000 of it in spousal maintenance, or is there a limit? I mean, you’ve got to pay taxes and you’ve got to be able to live yourself.
Adam: That is true. The courts still take that into consideration. They understand that.
Interviewer: I see. The courts won’t leave you completely destitute to pay your spousal maintenance or child support?
If One Spouse Is Self-Employed
Interviewer: What happens if one of the spouses’ is self-employed? Does it make it a lot more difficult to calculate the amount?
Adam: It can make it more difficult. Then you might have look into some forensic accounting to see what they’re actually doing. The findings are based on whatever their standard of living is, which you can determine by where they’re living, how frequently they go out or what kind of car they drive. This is done if something’s not quite right on how much income they are reporting.
Interviewer: In this regard, are there any things you can do during the divorce period that would ratchet up your spousal maintenance or child support?
Adam: Basically, the only thing that could change it would be a change in circumstances, such as your employment, either getting a job that pays substantially higher than the one that they worked during the marriage, or they lose their job.
Interviewer: If someone loses their job during the maintenance period, what do they do? Do they have to go back to the court and try to apply for a reduction?
Adam: You’d want to do that fairly quickly, especially since you won’t be receiving the income, or else you’d wind up with a substantial arrearage, which continues to accumulate.
By Adam Hunt