Why You Can’t Trust a Divorce Spousal Support Calculator
By Rachel Vanni
When you are getting a divorce, it is natural to want to do as much research as you can to be informed. You may be doing a lot of searches online to try and estimate how much spousal support you may get (or pay), but you can’t trust what you see. Why? Because unlike child support, the calculation isn’t quite as straightforward. We will explain.
Child Support Calculations
When we have couples with children, we can run child support calculations to get a monthly guideline amount of support. We use the same calculator as the court would use to determine what the correct amount of child support would be. Child support is calculated by particular terms, including timeshare, income, and other financial determining factors. This differs substantially from the more subjective factors that are used for spousal support.
There Is Not a True California Divorce Spousal Support Calculator
Spousal support is determined by statute, known as the 4320 factors. It is a list of 14 different factors that play a role in figuring out what amount of spousal support is correct. If you would like to read the full list, you can find it here. The purpose of spousal support is to provide the supported spouse with time to get to a point where they can be self-sustaining. It used to be that after ten years, a spouse could get support for life. That typically isn’t awarded anymore but is highly dependent on the circumstances. Usually, spousal support is awarded for half the duration of the marriage. With so many factors that are often subjective, you can’t find a divorce spousal support calculator that will work.
For example, a couple in their 40s divorces after 20 years of marriage. They both have a college degree, both have decent paying jobs, but one spouse makes slightly more than the other. Both can support themselves, but one spouse just needs some help to get established since they are the primary caretaker of the children and will need time to adjust their work schedule. Spousal support will likely be calculated at half the duration or less. Sometimes one spouse will accept a lump sum in exchange for a monthly payment in this instance.
Another example: a couple in their late 30s are divorcing after 11 years of marriage. One spouse is the sole breadwinner; the other has stayed at home with their young children for ten years and does not have a college degree. It is likely spousal support will be awarded for a more extended period so the supported spouse can obtain training and education to establish a career that can support him or her.
As you can see, spousal support can vary wildly depending on the circumstances. If you are curious regarding a California spousal support calculator, contact San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411. Come in for a free consultation, and we can discuss your particular case.