Many Maryland residents have experienced the divorce process, and likely, most of those people now have child and/or spousal support obligations. Many people may wonder what exactly courts look at when they are setting the level of financial obligation for one or both spouses. Knowing how the process works not only helps divorcing people set their expectations, but also may help individuals reach a favorable support arrangement.
Courts consider various streams of income
Typically, courts consider any type of earned income when determining support obligations, meaning not only salary, but also performing perks, performance bonuses, partnership distributions and the like. They will look at the most recent income tax return, but it’s also possible to investigate further if, for example, an individual’s or family’s lifestyle does not seem to match reported income. The court may also consider other factors, such as earning potential or financial support from family. For example, if a divorcing individual has earned an advanced degree but is working at a low-paying job, a judge may say that person could have a higher-paying job and will calculate support based on potential salary.
Divorcing people may consider various factors
Although manipulating one’s income is definitely not recommended, a divorcing person can keep in mind a few points when support obligations are under discussion. For example, if a person’s income fluctuates from year to year, and that person knows a higher-earning year is approaching, he or she may want to expedite the divorce process so it is completed prior to that earning period. Another option is working toward an agreement that is asset-heavy, which may help to lower support obligations. Finally, divorcing spouses may consider including a provision in the agreement that states a point at which the support obligation will be re-evaluated if, for example, one person’s income substantially decreases.
Overall, the goal with support obligations of any sort is to ensure the family continues the lifestyle they maintained during the marriage. Nevertheless, many couples find this part of the divorce process particularly challenging, so they seek the help of a professional. Attorneys experienced in family law are available to assist divorcing Maryland couples with navigating support issues, along with all other aspects of the divorce process.