Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, are going to discuss talk about very basic concepts regarding spousal support. There is a lot to know about spousal support and we can’t cover all the issues in just one video. We have a series of videos on spousal support.
Ed: Christina, what is the difference between alimony and spousal support?
Christina: “Alimony” and spousal support are the same thing. Judges and lawyers in California call it spousal support, while the general public calls it alimony.
Ed: What are the main issues when it comes to spousal support?
Christina: There are two main issues when it comes to spousal support: 1) Amount to be paid, and 2) Duration of the payments.
Ed: Are there different varieties of spousal support agreements?
Christina: Yes. There are many different varieties of spousal support agreements. Some of the different varieties of long term spousal support agreements are as follows: 1) Mutual permanent waiver, where both parties waive their rights to receive support; 2) Reservation of Jurisdiction, where the court does not order any support at the present time but reserves the right to award one spouse or the other spousal support in the future upon a showing of changed circumstances; 3) A certain amount paid for a certain period of time; 4) A certain amount paid for an indefinite period of time, meaning support is paid “until further order of the court”; 5) An amount that decreases over a period of time until it reaches zero; 6) An order that is non-modifiable as to amount; 7) An order that is non-modifiable as to duration; 8) An order that is non-modifiable as to amount and duration; 9) An order that provides for a buyout of the other party’s rights to receive spousal support. We will discuss these various varieties of spousal support in more detail in a later video in this spousal support series.
Ed: Can I deduct the spousal support I pay on my income tax returns:
Christina: The ability to deduct spousal support was altered under the tax laws enacted by Congress in 2018, laws that many people refer to as the Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA). Under the old laws, spousal support was tax-deductible by the payor and was taxable income to the recipient. Under the new laws, spousal support is not deductible by the payor and not taxable income to the recipient. Although the new laws were enacted in 2018, spousal support orders made before December 31, 2018, will be “grandfathered” in. So, if you have a spousal support order made before December 31, 2018, then spousal support can still be tax-deductible by the payor and taxable income to the recipient).
Ed: How do I figure out how much spousal support, if any, should be paid?
Christina: In order to understand how much spousal support should be paid, you need to understand that there two different types of spousal support, and the method the court uses for determining the amount of each type of support is very different. The two types of spousal support are: 1) temporary spousal support; and 2) long-term spousal support. Temporary spousal support is the amount of support that is paid from the beginning of the divorce process until you reach a settlement or go to trial. In a litigated case, it can take a year or longer to get to trial. The spousal support that is paid after a final settlement agreement is negotiated or after a trial does not have a special name, but we are going to refer to it as “long term spousal support”, even if the support may not be paid for very long.
Ed: How does the court determine the amount that temporary spousal support should be?
Christina: Since temporary spousal support is not going to be in effect for a very long period of time, the court wants a quick and simple method for calculating the amount that should be paid. The courts use a software program to calculate temporary spousal support, just like they use a software program to calculate child support. Most of the computer software programs used for calculating child support will also calculate temporary spousal support.
Much of the information previously provided in earlier videos about child support also applies to temporary spousal support. Much of the information we provided in the earlier child support videos is going to be repeated in the videos about spousal support. We have to repeat a lot of this information because some people using our website do not have children and will not have watched the child support videos. If you have already watched the child support videos, it won’t hurt, and it will probably help to hear some of the same information a second time.
Ed: Since there are different computer software programs available that can be used to calculate child support, is it also true that there are different computer programs that can calculate temporary spousal support?
Christina: Yes. There are different spousal support calculation software programs available for purchase including DissoMaster, SupportTax, XSpouse, CalSupport Pro; etc. These programs calculate both child support and temporary spousal support. They all produce about the same numbers. The variations in the numbers are typically small.
Most courts in California use DissoMaster to calculate both child support and temporary spousal support. You can purchase the Dissomaster program and similar programs online. For example, the DissoMaster program can be purchased through iTunes. However, you may find that the iTunes version of DissoMaster can only be used on an IPAD.
Ed: In the child support videos, you mentioned that a free child support calculation program is available online through the State of California. Is there also a free temporary spousal support calculator program available online through the State of California?
Christina: If you have at least one minor child by your marriage, you can go online to www.childsup.ca.gov/resources/calculatechildsupport.aspx. or just Google “State of California child support calculator”. This is a site maintained by the State of California. This site has a free child support calculation program, but the program will only work for spousal support if you have at least one minor child by your marriage. The State of California calculator that is available online also includes detailed instructions on how to run the program. However, if you don’t have at least one child by your marriage, the State of California online calculator won’t calculate just spousal support. It will work for just child support or both child support and spousal support, but not just spousal support.
Ed: Do the formulas for calculating temporary spousal support vary from county to county?
Christina: Yes. You need to understand that the formula for calculating temporary spousal support varies from county to county. When it comes to child support, we have one statutory “guideline” formula that applies throughout the State of California. However, when it comes to temporary spousal support, different counties have different formulas and some of the formulas vary significantly. If you are using a support software program to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support, make sure you adjust the settings of the program for your particular county. Not all software programs include the ability to adjust the spousal support formula from county to county.
Ed: Most courts in California use the DissoMaster computer software program to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support. In a later video in this series, we will discuss how the DissoMaster program works, but in the next video, we will talk about long term spousal support and how the amount of long-term spousal support is determined.