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Determining child and spousal support during divorce

Divorce in California can come with significant financial changes, some of which linger on long after the other emotional and practical issues have been sorted out. The type of financial changes can vary depending on the length of the marriage, the respective incomes of the two partners and the presence of children. When children are involved and one parent serves as the primary caregiver, it is particularly likely that child support payments will be ordered in the divorce. In some cases, alimony or spousal support payments may be ordered as well, but they may be shorter-lived than the payments to support the children.

There are a number of factors that family court judges consider when determining the amount of child support or alimony to be paid after divorce. In general, the court considers compensation, earned income and passive income when establishing a support amount. This includes both income from a job as well as investment income. Factors calculated can include performance bonuses and corporate contributions to retirement in addition to salary.

While federal tax returns are one key item of documentation used when issuing a support order, other factors are taken into account as well. For example, if tax returns show a modest annual income but the person's life suggests access to much higher levels of means, the court will investigate further to determine an accurate support amount. In some cases, the court can even impute income to the paying spouse, especially if the judge believes that this person is deliberately driving down income in order to evade support obligations.

Child support and spousal support are only two of the financial aspects that can accompany divorce. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing spouse to aim for a fair settlement on a range of issues, including property division and support provisions.

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