Finishing Touches To Spousal Support

The key to finding a precise support figure using the schedule is the updated income and expense information that you have compiled for you and your spouse. The support figure from the schedule is essentially a preliminary support order. Use the expense data to show that your needs/adjustments either justify more support or reduce your ability to pay support. There is one more factor.

Spousal support is deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient if the obligation is in a written order. Support of one thousand dollars may cost the payor seven hundred dollars after taxes. The recipient is presumably earning far less and can receive most of this tax-free. Look at the after-tax cash flow to find how much more can be paid. In a case where every penny is needed, the payor could shift twelve hundred dollars to the recipient for less than nine hundred dollars after taxes.

Work with your certified financial planner if you will be relying heavily on spousal support. Schedule your income and expenses for the next few years, check your anticipated budget and take taxes into account. Many of you will do this yourself. If you have any doubts, consult a professional. Don’t make a deal you’ll live with for years without knowing the consequences.

After you go through all the calculations, negotiations and perhaps trial to get a spousal support order, it’s over forever. Wrong! Spousal support is modifiable. Either one of you can come back to court upon a material change in circumstances. If the change is significant, the judge will modify support, upward or downward, based on the new facts. If you intend that support cannot be modified, your agreement must state this unequivocally, and use the word "nonmodifiable."

On the other hand, you might plan to change spousal support at one or more times in the future. Your spousal support order should explain when, how and why. The modification procedure is a safety net; few people go back to court for frivolous reasons. Most have had enough of court to last them for a lifetime. Of course, you may be able to negotiate a modification when needed without having to go to court.