How Do The New Laws Affect Maintenance (Alimony) and Child Support?
You may be wondering how the new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2016 affect maintenance (formerly known as alimony) and child support. While there are many facets to the new laws, here are a couple things to keep in mind:
Maintenance. Maintenance calculations are much clearer now… at least for those couples whose combined gross income is $250,000.00 or less. Prior to January 1, 2016, maintenance was calculated for those with a combined gross income of $250,000.00 or less by using a specific formula for the amount and a not-so-specific formula for the duration of payments. While the formula for amount has remained the same, the formula for duration has changed slightly. Previously, the statute indicated that duration of maintenance for a marriage lasting 0 to 5 years was 20% of the marriage, lasting 5 years to 10 years was 40%, lasting 10 years to 15 years was 60%, and so on. However, the question remained – what about a marriage that was at 10 years? Should the award be for 40% or 60% of the marriage? Now, the language is much clearer: For a marriage lasting 5 years or less it is 20% of the marriage, lasting more than 5 years but less than 10 years is 40%; lasting 10 years or more but less than 15 years is 60%. The length of the marriage is determined by the date of marriage to the date the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed. This was likely done to prevent parties from purposely extending a pending action to increase a maintenance obligation.
Child Support. The child support laws largely stayed the same, although there was a minor language change that could have large implications on the calculation of child support. Under the statute, net income is defined as income from all sources, minus deductions such as taxes, mandatory retirement contributions, union dues, prior obligations of support pursuant to court order, and health insurance. Additionally there was a provision that allowed for deductions for “expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income.” Now, this expenditure deduction includes payment of student loans. The court can interpret this a myriad of ways, including a deduction for the total amount paid for student loans, for the minimum required on the current plan, or for the minimum required if moved to a different plan.