Child Support & Spousal Support

Child Support

Child support is a potential issue which may arise regardless of whether the parents are married, were married, or never married. While the family court does have some discretion in setting child support, that discretion is somewhat limited. Child support is set by way of “guideline” child support. This means that the court uses a specific software program, XSpouse or Dissomaster, in calculating and setting guideline child support. The family court is not legally permitted to order child support different from the “guideline” calculations unless its reasons are explicitly stated. Even though the family court does not have a lot of discretion in this area of law, there are exceptions, such as cases involving extraordinarily high income earners, whereby a “guideline” child support order would far exceed the needs of the children. Whether your case qualifies as an “extraordinarily high income earner” case can only be determined on a specific, case-by-case basis.

The factors which the court considers in setting guideline child support includes (INCLUDE) but is (ARE) not limited, to the following: (a) number of children; (b) how much parenting time each parent exercises; (c) both parties’ tax filing status; (d) both parties’ gross monthly income; (e) both parties’ voluntary monthly 401(k) contributions, where applicable; (f) net monthly self-employment income, where applicable; (g) other sources of recurring monthly taxable and nontaxable income; (h) mortgage expenses; (i) property tax expenses; (j) transportation costs; (k) work-related day care expenses; (l) monthly health insurance costs; (m) recurring monthly out-of-pocket medical expenses, etc. While this list is not all inclusive, it should give you a good idea of what to consider when the issue of child support arises.

While child support may be somewhat formula-driven, there are still many aspects of these calculations which require legal guidance. Different types of income have different effects on the total calculated amount. Furthermore, in the event one of the parties is unemployed or underemployed, steps may be taken to allow the family court to consider that parent’s earning capacity, rather than their reported actual earnings. The Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil has handled hundreds of child support cases over the past 13 years, and comes equipped with the knowledge and approaches to effectively advocate for either side of the coin. This office has assisted parents seeking child support orders, as well as parents seeking to avoid exposure and preserve their finances. Either way, legal guidance in this area of the law is crucial, and the Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil is here and ready help you.

Spousal Support

There are two kinds of spousal support orders which may be made by the family court: temporary spousal support and permanent/post-judgment spousal support.

Similar to the child support discussion above, the family court tends to adopt a highly formulaic approach to setting temporary spousal support, taking into the account the same factors, and in fact using the same software which is used to calculate guideline child support. Temporary spousal support is defined as spousal support which is paid while the divorce process is pending. The purpose of temporary spousal support is to maintain the “status quo” as much as possible pending conclusion of the divorce proceedings, either by agreement or by trial.

Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, reflects a complex variety of factors established by statute and largely left to the discretion of the judge, including several factors which tend to favor reduced support, such as the “goal” that the supported spouse should become self-supporting within reasonable period of time. Not only are the legal bases for temporary and permanent spousal support different, there is also a disparity in practice. Unfortunately, divorce is, in the mathematical sense, a negative-sum game where each party will not have the same access to the whole of the marital property he or she had during the marriage. Therefore, “permanent” spousal support tends to be somewhat less than “temporary” spousal support, given their different underlying purposes.

Furthermore, legal rules and presumptions differ depending on the whether the duration of the marriage is short term (under ten years) or long-term (over ten years). Other presumptions of decreased need may apply in the event the supported party is actively cohabitating with a non-marital partner. Similar to child support, if allegations are made that the party receiving spousal support is unemployed or underemployed, steps may be taken to “impute” the receiving party with income reflecting their earning capacity, as opposed to their reported actual earnings. This is typically done by way of a vocational evaluation of the party seeking and/or receiving spousal support.

Quite unlike a family court determination of child support, where the court has little discretion, a determination of permanent/post-judgment spousal support rests largely upon the discretion of the particular family court judge. While every case is different, the financial stakes of this determination, for both parties, remain large in virtually every case. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek and obtain accurate legal guidance in order to ascertain what you may anticipate to receive, or what you may anticipate to pay, in spousal support, both while the divorce proceedings are pending, and once they have concluded.

The Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil has successfully handled hundreds of cases involving spousal support determinations over the past 13 years, and remains well-equipped to accurately and effectively advise you so that, moving forward, you may comfortably set your own financial goals and plans moving forward into this next chapter of your life. We remain ready, willing, able, and eager to assist you through this trying time.

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    Kevin M. Cecil

    Attorney at Law

    Meet Kevin M. Cecil

    Kevin M. Cecil is a lifelong Sacramento resident with an ongoing commitment toward service of the greater Sacramento community. Mr. Cecil graduated from California State University, Chico, and received his law degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. With experience in a variety of legal areas and settings, including, but not limited to, criminal defense, juvenile law, personal injury, and civil litigation, Mr. Cecil chose to concentrate on providing the best family law services in the greater Sacramento area, and has continued to do so for the past 13 years. He has assisted clients in many areas of family law, including divorce and legal separation, mediation, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, domestic violence restraining orders, civil harassment restraining orders actions, guardianships, adoptions, and “ghostwriting” services.

    If you are seeking advice and/or legal representation from the leading divorce and family law lawyer in the greater Sacramento area, look no further than The Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil. Contact us to setup your consultation today!