How do judges decide on spousal support amounts?

You have a lot to mark off your divorce checklist. You must cross off a few items before addressing spousal support, but you want to get a head start.

Forbes breaks down how judges decide how much a divorcing spouse pays in child support. Get an idea of the factors that determine how much you must set aside.

Compensation or income

Expect the court to scrutinize all compensation or income that you receive. That means employment perks, salary, deferred compensation and signing/performance bonuses. If you receive partnership distributions, a judge may consider those when deciding how much you pay in spousal support.

Tax returns

You may already expect the court to examine your last few income tax returns to determine spousal support amounts. Judges may put in extra work to determine whether you report all income that you receive. Your current lifestyle should reflect your current income and earnings. Inconsistencies may give a judge reason to doubt that you report all money you receive, which may mean that you have more to contribute to spousal support.

Potential earnings

Life factors may give a court the impression that you could make more money than you do currently. For instance, maybe you once had a well-paying job because you have a degree from a reputable master’s program, but you currently have a part-time gig delivering groceries. Rather than determining a spousal support amount according to your current salary, a judge may instead use your former high-paying job salary as the basis.

Consider creating a loose post-divorce budget based on how much spousal support you may pay. Arm yourself with knowledge so that you know how to plan your next steps.


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