What courts look at to calculate child and spousal support

People in New Jersey who are supposed to pay child and spousal support may be concerned about how they will afford these payments and their cash flow. In some cases, it may be possible to lower spousal support payments by offering a spouse a larger share of the marital property. People may also consider the timing of filing for divorce. For example, they might want to delay filing if they anticipate a slow income year ahead to ensure that year will be included in salary calculations.

However, people should not attempt to manipulate their income, and courts have ways of detecting this. For example, if a person appears to be underemployed based on their prior salary, their experience and their education level, a court may assign support payments based on what the person has the potential to earn. This might be the case if a person has an MBA from an Ivy League school but is working a low-paying retail job.

A court may also include other sources of support. This might include investment dividends, money from family members, performance bonuses and more. A couple can include an agreement that support will be modifiable if either has a significant change in income. However, since going back to court can be expensive and time-consuming and may require sharing more financial information, some couples do not include this provision.

Spousal support is often temporary and usually ends if the recipient remarries. It may help cover the cost of an ex-spouse retraining for a new career. Some people include protections in their divorce agreement against a paying spouse’s death or disability. For example, a life insurance policy could help ensure the other spouse continues to receive support even if the paying spouse dies. Disability insurance could help payments continue if the paying spouse is unable to work.