When a couple begins living separately, the same funds that were used to support one household now must be used to support two households. Often one of the first things that must be resolved is how much if any money will change hands between the parties.
Child support in the litigation setting is determined by use of a computer program (such as Dissomaster) which considers the incomes and tax situations of both parties, as well as the timeshare each has with the children. The Court is expected to follow a state guideline, and there is very little discretion to deviate from that guideline. Most expenses are not considered by the Court when child support is ordered. Child support cannot be made non-modifiable, nor can it be waived, in any divorce process. It generally takes first priority over all over debts.
Clients who are mediating or are in collaborative divorce will have more options for determining child and spousal support, as they are not bound by what a judge would do. Those clients can consider their expenses and budgets, as well as any other information, including input from a financial professional, that would help them reach an agreement that is in the best interests of their entire family.
There are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal support is paid during a family law case, until the Judgment is entered. Permanent spousal support is paid after the Judgment is entered. If the parties are litigating, temporary spousal support will be set with the same computer program that is used for child support. Permanent spousal support is not set with a computer program, but in the litigation context is determined by considering many statutory factors, such as length of marriage, standard of living during the marriage, time away from work to raise children, history of domestic violence, earning history, earning capacity, etc. Determination of these factors can be complex. In mediation and collaboration cases, the parties are not bound by what a Judge would do, but are able to work toward a settlement that benefits both of them and works for their family. They may consider additional information that a Judge would not find to be relevant, but that matters to the family.