If one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance the question becomes how much spousal maintenance should be paid.
Lawyers and Judges use a software program called DivorceMate which assists them in determining the appropriate amount and duration of spousal maintenance. There are also Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Neither of these are legislation but both are used extensively by lawyers and judges.
In order to use the DivorceMate program the following information is required:
- The gross annual income of both spouses and the nature of the income (i.e. is it salary, dividend income, pension income, etc.)
- The age of both spouses at separation
- The duration of the relationship from the date they started living together to the date they separated
- Are there any children and if so who do they live with
- Do the children have any special or extraordinary expenses and if so which spouse is paying them.
DivorceMate will show the appropriate amount of child maintenance to be paid. This payment is received by one spouse on a tax free basis and it’s not a tax deduction for the payor. It will also show a low, mid and high range amount for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance payments are taxable to the recipient spouse and a tax deduction for the payor spouse.
There are various arguments to be made regarding which level of spousal maintenance is appropriate based on the circumstances of the spouses. High end spousal maintenance is often appropriate to address a compensatory spousal maintenance claim and low end spousal maintenance can be appropriate if the amount is sufficient to meet a spouse’s reasonable expenses.
A fourth calculation that DivorceMate can supply is the amount of spousal maintenance that would equalize both spouses’ after tax incomes and often this can be the appropriate amount.
Deborah A. Todd