Any time you go through a divorce, you have the ability to collaborate and negotiate with your spouse on every issue, including the amounts of child and spousal support you (or they) will pay. In some cases, though, couples will simply use default amounts for their situation.
So, in California, how does the state calculate these default payments? Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
One common program used in San Francisco, CA when determining child support and spousal support alike is DissoMaster.
DissoMaster and child support
When it comes to determining child support, DissoMaster calculates the amount to be paid by combining the earnings of both parties, removing money for taxes, adding back in money for deductions (and various other applicable financial adjustments) and then allocating the remainder between the parties based on amount of time spent with the children.
If one of the parties has a variable income, the most common approach is to base the child support solely on base salary, without taking into account bonuses or variables related to self-employment. Any time additional income is earned, the party will pay a percentage of that income as additional child support. If the recipient spouse also has a variable income, further adjustments may need to be made to the calculations.
DissoMaster and spousal support
For alimony payments, the way DissoMaster will be used (or whether it can be used at all) depends on the longevity of the arrangement.
For temporary spousal support, DissoMaster will use the same formula it uses to calculate child support. These arrangements only last for the duration of the divorce process. The program will analyze the net income that remains after determining child support, and then allocate the rest as spousal support.
For long-term spousal support, though, courts will not be allowed to use DissoMaster or the formulas as described above. Instead, there are 16 factors created by the state legislature that courts must consider in determining long-term arrangements. These factors include things like health, ability to pay support, the need for support, age, years spent out of the workforce to raise children, general standard of living during the marriage and length of the marriage.
Given how many factors go into determining long-term spousal support arrangements, it can be very difficult to predict the amount of spousal support a judge will provide, which is one of the reasons why it’s in the best interest of both parties to work together and negotiate an amount themselves. The greater control over this aspect of the divorce is highly beneficial.
If you are interested in learning more about the DissoMaster program and how it would apply to your financial situation, we encourage you to contact Medina & Company Consulting, Inc. Our team of forensic accountants in San Francisco, CA would be happy to provide you with a forecast of your post-divorce economic outlook. We look forward to working with you and addressing any of your financial questions or concerns related to your upcoming divorce proceedings.