Written by: Matthew Katsionis
Getting divorced can often be a costly process. We are often asked by clients who are in the process of being divorced what the “cost to get divorced” is. The most common costs of a divorce are:
• Child Support;
• Dividing the assets such as property (family and vacation homes), pensions, and bank accounts; and
• Spousal Support.
As we plan a course of action to our clients we always explain that separate from the legal costs, there is going to be a monthly cost to our clients moving forward depending on their circumstances. If they are the primary income earner, then one of those monthly costs will be spousal support.
Spousal support is unique in that it does not follow a hard and fast line when calculating it. There is no doubt that at some point, prospective parties looking for a divorce have used an online Support Calculator to get an idea of what they will have to pay their spouse. If you are looking to get an idea of what spousal support may look like in your case, HART Legal offers a good and simple calculator to help you get there.
Calculating spousal support is contingent on a variety of factors. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the math, spousal support is based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAG”).
In determining spousal support, there are a variety of factors to be considered, included but not limited to:
• Length of the marriage;
o We note that 1-10 years is a short marriage, 10-24 is in the medium to longer range, and over 25 is a long marriage;
• If there are children, how many children if any, and who they primarily live with;
o This would include basic child support per the Federal Child Support Guidelines (“FCSG”);
o This would include section 7 special and extraordinary expenses per the FCSG;
• Income taxes and tax credits; and
• The difference in incomes between the parties.
Ultimately, spousal support is calculated on what’s left of the payor spouse’s net disposable income. Basically, after income taxes and statutory deductions, you have a net income. From there, child support and special expenses are deducted. The remaining funds are what will be used to pay spousal support. SSAG typically does not allow a recipient party to receive an amount of spousal support that will leave the payor spouse with less than 50% of their net disposable income; this is more common in longer marriages as the longer parties are married the more spousal support is paid. Therefore, all the other expenses that are mentioned have a direct effect on the spousal support amount.
When spousal support is calculated, it is done so in two calculations (1) With Child Support Formula, or (2) Without Child Support Formula. In doing the calculations you will often notice that the with child support formula results in less spousal support having to be paid because quite simply put, your net disposable income will be lower when you are paying child support.
There are a variety of exceptions to the rules. If your marriage was short, often your spousal support amount will be lower. Sometimes the amount is modest and does not reflect the recipient’s situation and what they need in support. You can contact Hart Legal and we can help you determine the amount you would be paying as a payor spouse, or the amount that you may be owed as the recipient spouse.
In the next blog, I will explain some ways in which you can be compensated for additional spousal support that may not be readily calculated the conventional way, such as:
• Sacrifices a party may have made during the marriage;
• Economic loss suffered due to the actions of the other spouse;
• Economic hardship;
• Disability; and
• Restitutionary claims for contributions made during the marriage whether monetary or otherwise.
Please contact us if you have any family law questions.