Divorce Support Calculation

Aug 8, 2012 by

Support, whether for an ex-spouse or for children, is always a major issue in a divorce. Because each individual state determines its own laws and procedures for calculating support; anyone seeking to establish support payments or modify an existing support order would be well-advised to research the particular rules within their state of residence. However, there are some basic financial guidelines and tools to calculate the payments that are shared by most states today.

Most states utilize a formula or “calculator,” that calculates an estimated amount of support that is subject to final modification by a judge, before making the order binding. Guideline amounts are generally based on the spouses’ respective incomes, expenses, and if applicable, the percentage of time spent with children. The formulas can provide a good baseline that can help expedite and simplifying the support calculation process in some cases, but the calculation can also be affected by the accuracy of incomes reported, by taxes and by many other legal factors.

Because the amount that a spouse receives in support ultimately depends on each individual judge’s ruling, it’s not possible for an support calculator to be a perfectly accurate tool and the process of determining payments in advance is very subjective as each judge can grants alimony or child support according to their own judgment.

The Court will usually consider the length of the marriage and if a couple was married for less than three years, a spouse would not be awarded spousal support, but they could qualify for child support of course as child support will most always be considered before alimony. When a spouse can work and make enough money to continue the standard of living that both had when married, support may not be ordered. Courts usually consider that three years is not enough time for a couple to invest a lot of money into a marriage, and gather the large amounts of property and assets that would create a standard of living that would be negatively impacted by a divorce.

The Court will consider job stability, debts and any other related financial factors. Each spouse’s age, physical and emotional health will also enter into determinations. How much each spouse ultimately receives in the division of marital assets can also affect the amount of support received. When one spouse is awarded the majority of the assets from a marriage, the other not have to pay as much support. However, in most every instance, it is always best to check with your attorney or the Court Clerk’s Office in your area of jurisdiction to see exactly how your state’s spousal support guidelines are determined.

Since child support always comes before alimony issues, an alimony Calculator can help show how much money each spouse will have to live on after the payment of both alimony and child support. Although an alimony calculator cannot predict future payments with 100% accuracy, it will also automatically calculate:

The income taxes of each spouse.
The FICA/Medicare taxes of each spouse.
Any applicable self-employment taxes.
Child Support payments by the non-custodial parent.
The tax value of a child’s exemption for each parent.

The support calculators themselves can be found in hundreds of places on the Internet today no matter where you live. The American Bar Association is a nationwide resource for information and referral on spousal and child support and hundreds of private law websites host alimony calculators online for every state in the nation. However, most attorney-provided support calculators will stress that the formulas and calculations are informal resources and the actual amounts of support that are ultimately awarded in any case are dependent on the consideration of many other factors.


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