Child support is a monthly payment made by one parent to the other to help compensate a parent with custody, who makes less money and/or has more time with the children than the other parent. The purpose is so the children continue to enjoy the standard of living of both parents, even though they have separated. The support amount is based on a mathematical formula called “guideline” that is calculated on a computer program .. The most common program used is called “DissoMaster”TM, although there are other brands of programs approved by the court. Several factors are used in the calculation including amount of time the child/ren spend with each parent, both parents’ incomes, if there are child care or health care costs, etc.
The court is obligated to follow guideline unless the parents agree to another amount of support between themselves and can assure the court that the needs of the children will be met. The court is also going to make sure work/school related child care, out of pocket health care and dental costs for the children and transportation for visitation are addressed.
Support orders can be made through agreement of the parties, through a divorce judgment or with an order after a court hearing.. Some parties seek support orders through the counties Department of Child Support Services which each county is mandated to have.
Spousal support, sometimes called “alimony” in other states, is a monthly payment made by one spouse to the other, for his or her support. It is a right that flows from the fact of marriage, and is not a right granted to unmarried partners, even if they have children together. Obviously, it is the higher earning spouse who is typically ordered to pay support to the other spouse.
While child support is calculated by strict guideline, a judge has more arbitrary discretion when making spousal support orders. There are several factors the court must consider including the parties’ incomes, the length of marriage, the health and earning ability of each party, whether or not one party stayed home to raise children rather than learn or advance their work skills, whether or not one party helped put the other through school or training, etc. In theory, one judge may make a completely different order than the next.
There are two types of spousal support. One is called “temporary” spousal support and the other is called “permanent” or “post-judgment” spousal support. Temporary spousal support is ordered after separation, but before the final judgment is entered. Its purpose is to preserve the standard of living of the marriage for both spouses as much as possible while their divorce is pending, taking into account the reality that it is more expensive to support two households than one.