What judges consider in deciding alimony and child support

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2020 | Firm News

Every divorce settlement is financial. Who receives how much? Who forfeits how much? Lots of numbers come into play. 

Deciding alimony and child support is not all about mathematics. A judge can weigh other factors in your favor. 

First, show them the money 

A major part of what a judge looks at when deciding alimony and support payments is obvious: He or she wants documentation of your income. Some sources of income include: 

  • Salary 
  • Job perks 
  • Employer contributions to your retirement account 
  • Performance or signing bonuses 
  • Deferred compensation 

A judge also will review your most recently filed federal income tax return. Returns can uncover other sources of income excluded from an initial search. 

The judge can even decide that a spouse can afford paying more support based on potential, not just actual, income. For instance, he or she can rule that a person with a master’s degree working as a clerk should have a higher-paying job. 

Next, show some common sense 

You can adjust the timing of your divorce in your favor. If you know that a large bonus is coming your way in the next year, for instance, it makes sense to speed up the divorce process so the bonus is not part of your income. If your income is likely to drop, slowing the process means the lower earnings will be part of the equation. 

Thinking in the long term is beneficial, too. Consider giving your spouse a greater share of the assets in your initial agreement. That could lessen your alimony and child support payments. 

You also can seek a provision allowing changes in your payments. If your income decreases, you can argue that you cannot afford the full payments. However, if your income increases, your spouse can seek more money. 

Finally, think about your leading interests 

Your goal in divorce is preserving your lifestyle as much as possible. Do not ask for too much, and do not settle for too little. 

Divorce laws and court proceedings are complex. Prepare yourself with facts and a persuasive argument.