Child and Spousal Support

by Miod and Company Miod and Company No Comments

Understanding Alimony

Alimony is, in basic terms, payments made from one party of a divorce to the other in order to allow the receiving party to continue to maintain a lifestyle like the one they had as a married person. It is a form of financial support, not to be confused with child support, which is payment intended specifically for the care and keeping of the couple’s children. Alimony is for the ex-spouse.

There are multiple factors involved in the calculations of alimony payments. These include:

  • The financial needs and abilities of the parties
  • The duration of the union
  • The standard of living maintained by the couple during the marriage, and the probability that each party can reasonably maintain such a standard in divorce
  • The earning capacity, education, vocational skills, and employability of both parties
  • The health of each party
  • The possibility of the party seeking alimony payments finding the capacity to maintain their lifestyle on their own wherewithal, which is influenced by:
    • The duration of time necessary to get training or education necessary for the receiving party to find comparable employment and income
    • The availability of said training and employment
    • The financial opportunities available to this party
  • The distribution of property between the parties
  • The possibility of income from investment of assets
  • Any other factor the court determines relevant

So you can see, there’s a lot to work with. Essentially, though, it boils down to what each party already has, plus what they could have in the future. Alimony can also be modified if there is a significant change to one party’s income or earning ability or based on other factors.

There are a few types of alimony, and how many of them are recognized by the court system depends on the state of jurisdiction. In California, for example, there are only two recognized types of alimony. These are:

  1. Pedente Lite Alimony — This type of alimony is temporary (pedente lite, in Latin, means “pending the litigation”). It is intended to help the supported spouse during the course of the divorce.
  2. Permanent Alimony — This type of alimony is typically awarded only for long-term marriages. It is intended to be, well, permanent, ending only upon the death of either spouse.

There are other types of alimony, but these two are the most common.

Alimony is not awarded in all divorce cases, but it’s important to understand it when it comes up. It is more likely in higher-income couples and in marriages that lasted longer, though it can be a factor in almost any divorce case. Consult your local laws for specific understandings of what alimony calculations entail for any case you work on.

by Miod and Company Miod and Company No Comments

An Overview of Child Support

Child support is defined as “a payment made by a noncustodial parent as a contribution to the costs of raising his or her child”. Various factors are taken into consideration when the court calculates what the appropriate payment from the aforementioned noncustodial parent ought to be. These factors vary depending on the court in which the calculations are made; some jurisdictions take into account different factors than others. 

However, there are a few things that are almost universally agreed upon as variables defining child support amounts. One that is of particular importance in all cases is the income and assets of each parent. For obvious reasons, the amount of money to which the noncustodial parent has access, be it in the form of their paycheck or other format such as ownership of real estate, is directly proportional to the amount they are able to provide to the end of supporting their offspring. A parent with higher income will pay a higher amount of child support, and a lower earning parent will do the opposite.

This is related to another factor, the earning ability of each parent. If the custodial parent is unemployed due to an inability to work, for example, the parent paying in might find themself having to put in more to make up for the difference.

Another factor commonly considered is the particular characteristics of the child, such as if the child has special needs that incur medical or other costs. This is necessary to take into account when calculating child support payments because the ultimate goal of child support is to support the child, and some children require more or different things in order to be adequately supported. 

There are many other factors involved in these calculations, and which are to be considered the most important varies by jurisdiction. However, rather than explicating every possible iteration, let’s move on to the time frame of child support.

The obligation of a parent to support their child begins at that child’s birth, and legally ends when the child reaches emancipation, which can mean a few different things. Some events that constitute emancipation include:

  • The child reaches the age of majority, which in all fifty states ranges from age 18 to age 21.
  • The child graduates from high school and doesn’t continue their educational path onwards to trade school or college.
  • The child graduates from trade school or college.
  • The child does not finish school and goes to work full time.
  • The child gets married.
  • The child enters the military.

Essentially, when the child starts living their life in a way that can be interpreted as being more “adult” than “child”, the obligation for child support ends.

The inclusion of the time of secondary education in the terms of a child support agreement is interesting, because while most people would not consider a 22 year old college student a child, that person is still in a position to require financial support. For this reason, it is possible in some states for child support orders to still be in effect for the duration of the child’s secondary schooling. This is because, while the child has reached the age of majority, they are not considered emancipated because they are not financially supporting themselves.

Each state had the power to determine their own laws regarding child support until federal intervention created a necessary sort of uniformity. A 1974 amendment to the Social Security Act mandated that every state have a Child Support Enforcement Program in order to ensure that payments were made, and made accurately. CSEPs provide services including locating absent parents, establish paternity when it is in question, and ensure that payments are being made to the amount and on the schedule that the court determined. 

Child support is an important part of all divorces involving couples with children. It is not to be confused with alimony, which is also known as spousal support, which is intended to aid the lower-earning spouse in maintaining a reasonable standard of living after the couple’s divorce. Child support is a branch of the social contract between parents and their children, which dictates that that parent is responsible for the well-being of that child. Through the legal considerations of child support, this contract is able to be maintained even in cases when a set of parents elects to go their separate ways.