Video #33 – Getting Educated – Spousal Support PART 3 (DissoMaster)

Video Transcript

Welcome to 

Christina:  This is Christina.

Ed:  This is Ed.  Today, we are going to talk about the DissoMaster computer program that courts use to calculate temporary spousal support.  Again, much of this information was covered in the videos about child support.  We are going to be repeating information because a lot of people watching these spousal support videos do not have minor children and they did not watch the child support videos.

Christina:  Explaining the basics of how the DissoMaster program works is complicated.  We had to break it up into two videos.  If you don’t want to spend the time learning how the DissoMaster program works, you can skip ahead to the video that explains how to determine the amount of temporary spousal support without using the DissoMaster program.  However, we recommend that you don’t skip ahead.  Even if you do not intend to do your own spousal support calculation using a computer software program, you should still watch this video and the next video about the DissoMaster program because we cover a lot of information that is extremely useful when it comes to understanding how the amount of support is determined.

Ed:  Christina, if I want to run a temporary spousal support calculation using a computer software program such as DissoMaster, how do I get access to the program?

Christina:  One option is to purchase the program.  You can purchase the DissoMaster program, as well as similar programs, on-line.  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 your iPad.

Ed:  Christina, would you explain how the DissoMaster temporary spousal support calculation program works?

Christina:  If you run a support calculation on DissoMaster, when you are done, you can print out a copy of the calculation.  The printout usually consists of the first page that contains the calculation, plus a bonus chart.  We have a sample DissoMaster printout, with a bonus chart, in our Court Forms database.   This is what the first page of the DissoMaster sample printout looks like.  We will be referring to this page throughout this video.  We will show you what the DissoMaster sample bonus chart looks like in the next video.   Again, you can find both of these pages in our court forms database.  The two pages are in one PDF entitled, “DissoMaster Support Calculation”.  

Ed:  What if I want to use a different support calculation program besides DissoMaster?

Christina:  Our sample support calculation was done using the DissoMaster software because that is the program most commonly used by the courts.  If you run the calculation using different software, your support calculation printout will look somewhat different, but most of the support programs that you can purchase have similar formats.  How the printout looks is not important.  What is important is that all the support calculation programs produce very similar support numbers.  Of course, you only want to run support programs that are designed for the State of California.  Other states have very different rules when it comes to spousal support. 

Ed:  How does the DissoMaster program work?

Christina:  When you use a support calculation program, such as DissoMaster, there are lots of lines for entering data.   The data entry lines appear on the left-hand side of the print out.  The first data entry line reads, “Number of Children”.  The next data entry line reads, “% time with NCP”, which stands for the percentage of time that the children are with the non-custodial parent.  There are over 30 data entry lines on the left-hand side of the page.

Ed:  Wait, I thought this video was going to be about spousal support.  Why are we talking about the number of children and custodial timeshare percentages?

Christina:  The DissoMaster program will calculate just child support, just spousal support, or both child support and spousal support.  We are using the same DissoMaster sample calculation for both our child support video and our spousal support video.  So, that is why our sample printout has some entries for children and includes an amount for child support.  If you don’t have minor children by your marriage, you can skip the data entry lines that pertain to children.

Ed:  What if I don’t have minor children.  What if I’m only interested in the spousal support amount. 

Christina:  The DissoMaster program will work for just spousal support.  If you don’t have children, and don’t enter any data about children or custodial time share percentages, the program will simply calculate the spousal support number.

Ed:  I am looking at the data entry line that is 5 lines down from the top, the one that is entitled, “Wages and Salary”.  I see that there is a column for “Father” and a column for “Mother”.  Where do I put the data about my salary if I am not a father?

Christina:  You put your salary information in the column for “Father”, even though you may not have kids.  Think about the “Father” column also be the “Husband” column.  Your wife’s salary information goes in the column entitled, “Mother”.

Ed:  So, when I am running the DissoMaster program, I look down the data entry lines on the left-hand side of the page, and I then enter data for me and my spouse, correct? 

Christina:  That’s correct.  You fill out all the data entry lines that apply to your situation.  For example, if  you have children, you are going to indicate how many children you have by your marriage, state the custodial time share percentage, indicate your income tax filing status, state the amount of each party’s salary or wages, etc.  If you don’t have children, just skip the data entry lines that pertain to children.

Ed:  Do I have to enter data for all of the data entry lines?

Christina:  No. You are going to leave most of the data entry lines blank because you are probably going to find that most of the data entry lines do not apply to your situation.  If you don’t have income from self-employment, leave that line blank.  If you don’t have non-taxable income, leave that line blank.  If you don’t have a new spouse, leave that line blank.

Ed:  So, let’s assume I have gone down the data entry lines on the left-hand side of the page and entered data for me and my spouse.  What do I do next?

Christina:  After you enter the data, you push “enter” on your keyboard and the program will give you the temporary spousal support number.  The spousal support number will appear in the middle of the printout.  Since our sample printout was used for both child support and spousal support, the sample printout includes both child support and spousal support amounts in the middle of the printout.  We have highlighted both the child support and spousal support numbers.  If you look in the middle of the printout, you will see “Basic CS” and $863 next to it.  The printout is telling you that the child support number is $863 per month.  Below the child support numbers you will see “SS Payor” and “Father”.   “SS” stands for spousal support.  This is telling you that Father owes mother spousal support.  Just below “SS Payor”, you will see the word “Alameda” and next to that, $213.  Alameda is the county for which this particular support calculation was made. As we mentioned in an earlier spousal support video, different counties use different formulas to calculate temporary spousal support.  We could have changed the settings on the DissoMaster program to a different county, such as San Francisco County, if we were running the calculation for a divorce that was pending in San Francisco.  $213 per month is the amount of temporary spousal support that Payor (Father/Husband) would owe Mother/Wife in our sample calculation.  The $1,076 number, which is located just below the spousal support number, is the total of the $863 child support plus the $213 spousal support.

Ed:  Are some of the data entry lines more important than others?

Christina:    Each line on which you enter data will impact the spousal support number.  Although all data entries impact the calculation, there are a few entries that have the largest overall impact.  The amount of income each person has is the most important factor in determining how much spousal support is owed.    Although all of the entries are important, some of the more important data entries include how much each party pays for health insurance; how much each party contributes to their 401(k) account; do they have other children from other marriages or relationships living with them; and what is their income tax filing status. 

Ed:  Do some of the data entries produce results that are different than what you would expect?

Christina:  Yes.  Some of the entries seem counter-intuitive.  For example, if the husband has a huge mortgage payment, you would think he will get a break and pay less spousal support.  However, the fact is that the big mortgage payment will cause him to pay a higher amount of spousal support.  The support program sees the interest portion of the mortgage payment as a tax deduction and concludes that the husband has more after-tax income and therefore can afford to pay a higher amount of support.   The same thing is true for 401(k) contributions.  If Husband is having a lot of money taken out of his paycheck and put into a 401(k), he will owe more spousal support, not less, because of the income tax benefits he receives by making the 401(k) contributions.

Ed:  In the sample calculation, you list Father’s salary as $4,333 per month.  What if the father or husband has a base salary of $4,333 per month, but then he also gets extra pay because he frequently works a lot of overtime, and at least once per year, he gets a big bonus.  How does that extra income factor into the spousal support calculation?

Christina:  We will cover that issue in the next video.


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