Child Support: Decision-Making Factors

Generally, courts decide child support amounts based on computer program known as the "guidelines".  Xspouse and DissoMaster are two.  The results rely on data to determine the support amount.  Commonly are  the parents' incomes, time share arrangements, number of supported children, and certain tax deductions and expenses the statutes provide.  Child care costs, union dues, health insurance, child support payments for other children, home mortgage interest and taxes  are examples.  What is income on which to calculate child support is defined to include almost everything.

Parents' child support incomes are payroll wages, average overtime, bonuses, commission, disability income, passive income, social security income, and, sometimes even income from second jobs.  If a parent is avoiding his or her support obligation, intentionally avoiding employment or suppressing income, the court may impute an ability to earn income to that parent, and on that to calculate child support.  Where the parent obligated to pay support is self-employed, determining what is that person's real income or "cash flow" may be difficult. That is absent a financially savvy divorce lawyer on your side to direct and apply accounting, taxation and forensic skills.  A forensic accountant is often involved, particularly if tax returns are insufficient.

Exceptions to guidelines calculated child support are available.  Special facts or keen lawyering skills (or both) are needed.

Spousal Support: Decision-Making Factors

Temporary orders for spousal support are also usually calculated by "guidelines" data.  What data is accurate and what are any unique, equitable factors to consider are where good lawyering applies.

For the long-term, there are a dozen criteria for deciding the amount and duration of spousal support.  One to help a former mate have the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.  Another is to assist in a transition to becoming self supporting, if possible.  The length of a marriage, the needs of the asking spouse, his/her ability to earn, or to pay, and other factors a court must consider.  See California Family Code, at Section 4320.  The court exercises its discretion, and is almost never overturned on appeal.

Courts can not use a guidelines calculation to decide long term spousal support, or a modification of it.  But, is that workable?  what exceptions are there that can apply to you?  There is no substitute for good advice and guidance when it comes to support decisions Call NDA.  Consult on your spousal support concerns.  Speak directly to a lawyer.  Call (949) 752-2727.