Income considerations for child and spousal support

When a couple gets divorced in Texas, one ex-spouse may be required to pay alimony and child support to the other. Both states and judges themselves differ on what factors they will consider when assigning the obligation amount, but income is always part of the calculation. This can involve more than simply looking at regular earnings.

For example, a court may also consider deferred compensation or signing bonuses when determining a parent's income. Lifestyle relative to income will also be taken into account. If the family appears to have a lifestyle that is above what would be expected given the income listed on tax returns, the court may look into the other potential means of support. Another consideration will be how to continue supporting children in this lifestyle.

If a parent is underemployed, a court may do a calculation based on what they could be earning. An example would be someone with an MBA who is working in retail. If the ex does not work outside the home but is given money from family, this might also be considered in assessing support amounts. Courts will look at averages over several years to reduce the likelihood of someone manipulating these numbers, but there may be situations in which timing the divorce can help. There might also be a provision for modifying support.

Some exes include a requirement to carry life or disability insurance in the divorce settlement. This can help ensure that support payments will continue even if the paying spouse dies or is unable to work because of disability. However, there may be situations in which a person needs to reduce the amount of support paid because of job loss or another change in income. An attorney could help a client seek and obtain a child support modification.

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