Child Support & Maintenance Guidelines & Temporary Support Applications

During a contested divorce case it often becomes necessary to file or to oppose a child support and spousal support (maintenance) application.  Obviously one person is seeking support and the other person is opposing the application.  The battle lines are drawn quickly because often the person seeking support is asking not only for child support and maintenance but also payment of carrying charges on the marital residence, maintaining health and auto insurance, payment of uninsured health expenses, child care and auto payments as well.

The sheer amount of all of these expenses will often equal or exceed a person's disposable income.  The request is made on short notice and the court is often forced to make an immediate temporary decision and then a full decision will come often months later as both sides need time to respond to the motion or cross-motion, if filed, and then the court needs time to review and write a decision.

The guidelines on child support provide a formula for the calculation of child support.  If that were all that was involved it is pretty easy to calculate and determine.  The maintenance statute also provides a more complicated formula but that too can be applied and calculated.  The problem arises when a party asks for all the other financial bills to be paid while also seeking child support and maintenance.

Most judges, if not all, will initially determine the income of the parties and then use the formulas to calculate both child support and spousal support.  Then the court will need to examine the other bills and determine how to apportion them between the two spouses.  The court will consider whether the parties are living together or separately, what the resources are of each party, whether there have been changes in either party's income more recently and whether the expenses have changed recently.

The courts are mindful of the concept that child support and spousal support have a built in component for some of the above expenses.  Therefore, many judges will, if they order payment of other bills, deviate from the formula numbers and reduce the child support or the spousal support because the other spouse has been directed to pay the mortgage or the utilities or the car payment or the health insurance expense.  The idea is to maintain the parties as best as possible when income and resources are being divided or split between two residences.  A difficult task for sure unless the parties have significant incomes and/or assets.