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12 Aug. 2013

What Is The B-Key Analysis?

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

One thing that the court is not allowed to do is use Guideline Temporary Spousal Support calculations (formulas set forth by statute) to determine Permanent Spousal Support [Marriage of Zywiciel (2008) 83 Cal.App.4th 1078, 1082]. Computer software programs like Dissomaster or Xspouse are designed to make these Temporary Support calculations for you.

Nevertheless, such Guideline calculations are often used behind the scenes as a measure (of sorts) in determining Permanent Spousal Support, at least in the course of settlement negotiations and mediation.

It is improper to use guideline Temporary Spousal Support calculations to determine Permanent Spousal Support because the Family Code specifically provides another more subjective methodology that considers several factors to determine Permanent Spousal Support (see “Calculating Permanent Spousal Support” for a more thorough discussion of these factors).

Also, Temporary Spousal Support guideline formulas tend to be overly generous to the recipient giving that person a little extra spousal support pending trial.

For better comparison purposes, a couple of different practices (or "rules of thumb") have become common.

The first rule of thumb is to take the Temporary Spousal Support number, and reduce it by 20%. This seems a bit arbitrary, but it tends to produce a calculation that’s more fair.

The second rule of thumb, is known as the "B-Key" analysis. The actual “b-key” relates to a command used by the Dissomaster program.

After the program makes the calculation for Temporary Spousal Support, press the letter "B" on the keyboard. The program then makes an alternative calculation without considering that the payor spouse received a tax deduction for payment of spousal support. The “B-key” calculation is therefore a lower amount of spousal support.

If software like Dissomaster is to be used as a comparison for determining Permanent Spousal Support, the best methodology is perhaps to simply use the software to determine parties' relative net income after the payment of child support. One may then consider how much the higher earning spouse must pay the lower earning spouse to equalize their net incomes, while also considering each parties' relative cost of living, and the other mandatory factors set forth in Family Code section 4320 for determining the amount of Permanent Spousal Support.

Categories: Spousal Support
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