Providing financial support for your children after divorce or continuing to support an ex-spouse can be stressful. Splitting from one household into two necessarily means more expenses after an already-expensive divorce. Even though you want to do right by your children and your ex-spouse, you may be worried about making ends meet.
To give yourself some peace of mind, it’s a good idea to understand how child support and spousal support are calculated, and what you can do to ensure that the factors considered by the court accurately reflect your financial situation.
Examining All Sources of Income
Most of us think of our income in terms of our salary or hourly wages. Certainly, this is one of the primary considerations, and you’ll likely need to provide your most recent tax return(s). But the court will also look at other sources of income, including:
- Employment performance bonuses, signing bonuses and other perks
- Retirement contributions made by your employer
- Investment income
- Additional part-time work other than your primary job
- Partnership distributions
- Deferred compensation
- Carried interest
Some clients asked to pay child or spousal support make efforts to hide or otherwise misrepresent their income. This is a bad idea, and one that could lead to far less favorable outcomes if discovered by a judge. Instead, you should seek to give the best realistic assessment of your finances.
Why A Good Attorney Is Essential in These Processes
Your attorney cannot change your financial circumstances going into child support or spousal support calculations. But what an attorney can do for you is to ensure that your financial circumstances are accurately calculated and effectively contextualized for the court.
For example, income and perks may look much more lucrative on paper than they actually are. You don’t want a judge to consider overtime pay or bonuses in the calculation of your income if you rarely have access to extra hours or additional compensation. Your attorney can and should ensure that the court receives a full and accurate financial picture, including expenses that may not have initially been included in your income evaluation forms.
Remember: You Can Seek Modifications Later On
Circumstances change for each member of the family. You may fall on hard times in the future while your ex-spouse gets a high-paying job or married into wealth. The financial needs of your children will likely also change as they grow. If circumstances change significantly enough that your current support order is untenable, you can petition the court to change payment amounts (or terminate the order entirely, in some spousal support scenarios).
Learn More About How We Can Help You
At all stages of the divorce, child custody and financial support processes, it is crucial to work with a skilled family lawyer, like from The McKinney Law Group, who will strongly advocate for your best interests.