Divorce advice for child support and alimony

Roxanna Guinan
by Roxanna Guinan, Contributor

 

We’ve all heard about high-profile celebrity divorce cases where gazillions of assets are divided between the two spouses and sometimes the custodianship of the children is spotlighted.  Divorce is never easy but a fair, ethical and knowledgeable attorney can provide divorce advice that can help divorcing couples work out equitable solutions that can reduce tension and concern.

In a lot of divorces, alimony (also known as spousal support) and child support become critical negotiating chips in the divorce settlement.  When it comes to child support, it’s good divorce advice to know that each state has specific guidelines that provide judges with an estimate as to how much support one should be paying based on his/her income, the total number of children to support, custody arrangements, parenting sched¬ules, and other considerations.

Many states now have software which generates a projected/esti¬mated child support figure for a judge to consider but the judge has the power to look at other factors as well such as whether or not the child is in school, lives at home, has special educational or medical needs, etc.

Many lawyers who provide divorce advice will counsel their clients to be prepared to show proof of income as well as expenses related to caring for the children. Financial situations can change over the years and it is important to seek post divorce advice if the spouse responsible for paying child support  suffers a permanent injury or illness affecting his/her ability to work, loses a job, or has additional children.  The court has the power to increase or decrease child sup¬port if one of the parties requests a modification. This is valuable divorce advice.

Alimony laws vary widely from state-to-state, and are generally at the discretion of a family court judge so it is crucial to seek divorce advice if you believe you are eligible for alimony. Typically, in making the decision about how much (if any) alimony to away, the judge will determine the length of the marriage. The judge will want to know if either spouse has contributed in any major way to the other spouse's career, either through financial support or time spent helping the spouse, maintaining the home or raising the children.

The judge will particularly assess the alimony recipient’s chances in the present-day job market, skills level, educational background, and work history.

Other divorce advice dispensed by your attorney will be to be aware of the judge’s weighing of other factors including marital assets, division of property, and other sources of income after divorce. For example, a judge may stipulate that child support and alimony be paid to a sole custodial parent until the children reach college age. As a tax note, it's important to remember that alimony is seen as income by the IRS and must be reported as income on a tax return.

However, for your spouse, the divorce alimony he or she pays you is a tax deduction.