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17 Jun. 2013

How is Temporary Spousal Support Calculated?

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

Here’s a question that pops up quite a bit. How is Temporary Spousal Support calculated?

In most courts, including those in Southern California (i.e., San Diego County, Riverside, San Bernardino County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, et cetera) the calculation for Temporary Spousal Support starts with a statutory guideline formula, which then can be adjusted up or down, based on whatever the court deems as "special circumstances." But in a general sense, the level of support is based on the net amounts of income remaining after Child Support has been deducted.

Southern California uses the Santa Clara guideline formula. Under this formula, after any child support payments have already been accounted for, the recipient is entitled to 40 percent of the net income of the payor spouse, less 50 percent of the net income of the payee spouse, after adjustment for tax consequences.

This calculation is more difficult than it first seems, because the payment of spousal support is deductible to the payor. Thus, once this deduction and the tax break is accounted for, the formula needs to be reapplied over and over again, to account for the payor's true after tax income.

Fortunately, there are programs that can make this extrapolation for you. The two most common are Dissomaster ( and Xspouse (

Sometimes free temporary trial versions are available for download from the internet, and can usually be found simply by conducting an internet search for such terms as "Dissomaster Free Trial" or "Xspouse free trial."

"Special circumstances" can be considered by the court in decreasing or increasing spousal support above or below the guidelines. Such special circumstances can include support obligations arising from a prior relationship, unusually high monthly expenses, etc.

For instance, if the payor spouse is burdened with high monthly credit card payments (under his or her name) that were incurred during the parties' marriage, one might argue that such payments also benefited the other spouse and should be considered in deducting spousal support.

As a matter of law, guideline formulas may not be the basis for setting "permanent support" [Marriage of Zywiciel (2008) 83 Cal.App.4th 1078, 1082]. However this does not prevent the court and attorneys engaged in settlement negotiations from running a temporary support calculation for comparison purposes.

Categories: Spousal Support
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