What Judges Specifically Consider in Calculating Alimony & Child Support
We have briefly touched on how alimony and child support are calculated, but as attorneys who practice family law here in Florida, we regularly receive a number of questions about what kind of income the court specifically takes into account in determining these payments.
Judges do have some leeway in making these decisions (in addition to looking to state law). Below we discuss some of the basic types of earned income or compensation from both employment and other sources, including passive income, in establishing the amount of support you will be expected to pay (or be paid). For example, some of the types of income that the court will look at include:
- Carried interest;
- Corporate contributions to retirement accounts;
- Deferred compensation;
- Certain perks related to employment, such as bonuses;
- Partnership distributions; and
The Courts Can Look Beyond Your Income Tax Returns
However, keep in mind that, while the court will look at your most recently filed federal income tax return, they can also look at other assets that are not necessarily mentioned in your return–such as property owned—in determining what you are capable of contributing in order to provide a similar lifestyle for your family prior to your divorce. In anticipation of these factors being taken into account, some individuals try to manipulate how their income appears to the court. However, be careful about doing this, as the court can look beyond immediate earnings and at the last few years, and can they can also remove an outlier year in calculating an average.
In addition, the court can also take into account your earning potential if they decide that the supporting spouse’s income is not reflective of what they could provide. This is especially the case if that supporting spouse once made a higher income. They can also take family contributions into account, such as a trust fund.
Determining Strategy In Filing
If this information inspires you to work towards a support agreement, below are some suggestions on how you can work towards this agreement:
- Take timing into account in getting your divorce: For example, if you know you will be receiving a bonus, you may want to time your divorce for sooner or later. In addition, if you know your income may be lower in the next few years, you may also want to change the timing of the divorce process;
- If your concern is cash flow, also keep in mind that asset division can offset some of this cash flow, where granting your spouse a greater share of the marital assets could decrease your overall support obligations over time; and
- If you are concerned about your income decreasing, know that you can also request a modification provision, which would prompt point your support obligation to be reevaluated. Just keep in mind that this can also work to the opposite effect if you end up with an increased income.
Contact Our Florida Alimony & Child Support Attorneys to Find Out More
In general, you should try to be prepared for the court to look at every single income stream in evaluating your potential to provide support. Contact our West Palm Beach family attorney at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. today to find out more about these important issues.