Divorce has a substantial impact on a couple’s finances. In addition to allocating the property and debts, it is important to understand what financial support you might receive and what you might need to pay. These questions are complicated. Let’s take a look at the basics of child support and spousal support.
If there is a minor child of the marriage, one parent (usually the non-custodial parent) may be ordered by the court to help pay for the living expenses of the child. The idea is that the parent who has custody of the child is providing food, shelter and other financial needs for the child. Therefore, the non-custodial parent is expected to make a fair financial contribution. The parents are equally responsible for supporting the child until the child either turns eighteen and is a full-time high school student, or completes the 12th grade, or turns 19, whichever happens first. The amount to be paid is decided by the court, using guidelines from the California Department of Child Support Services. The child support guideline calculator helps estimate the amount of child support. The court does, however, have the discretion to depart from the guidelines in certain cases. Factors used to establish the amount include the parents’ income, the number of children, the time spent with each parent, the tax filing status of the parents, the support of children from other relationships, as well as other factors.
Payments made to one spouse after the divorce that are intended to maintain the former spouse’s standard of living during the marriage are known as spousal support, or alimony. “Standard of living” simply means how well or how badly a person’s needs and wants are met. A spouse who has never worked may, for example, suffer a huge decrease in his or her standard of living as a result of a divorce. These payments may be agreed upon by the spouses as part of their settlement or they may be ordered by the court. The amount and terms of the payments differ widely from case to case and not all divorces involve spousal support. Some of the factors considered in alimony are each spouse’s ability to support him or herself, the age, health and financial status of each of the parties, the length of the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage.
Because each case is different, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to advocate for you. Please contact us if you have any questions or wish to discuss your specific circumstances.