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Are There Limits That Apply to Spousal Support?

Are There Limits That Apply to Spousal Support?

Interviewer: Are there limits to spousal support? Can you theoretically bankrupt the other party?

An Example of How Spousal Support Could Contribute But Be the Cause of Bankruptcy

Tanya: Can they bankrupt somebody? Yes, they can. Sometimes the numbers are inaccurate. Or sometimes they’re too extreme one way or the other and they can cause that kind of harm to people. Additionally, sometimes these people are unable to manage their finances properly.

So for example, let’s say, the husband makes $300,000 a year and his wife makes a $100,000 a year. And say the judge awards $60,000 per year of alimony, which is tax deductible to him. Alimony is all tax deductible and it’s taxable to the recipient. Then say he has to pay $25,000 in child support.

So you make $300,000 a year, you’re paying $60,000 in alimony, and then $25,000 in child support. Now, should that bankrupt the person that’s making $300,000 a year?

No, but if he decides he’s going to go and buy a big, expensive house, and then he goes and buys a $100,000 Mercedes, and then makes other extravagant purchases, obviously it’s not the support that bankrupted him. It’s the other choices, but that happens.

Could Spousal Support Exceed Fifty Percent of Someone’s Income?

Interviewer: The reason why I asked is could the alimony and child support ever be 70% of someone’s income? Or will it never go that high?

The Number of Children, Plus a Locale’s High Cost of Living Could Lead to a Large Percentage of Income Being Allotted for Support

Tanya: Well, look, let’s look at the scenario. Let’s say you have a man who earns 70 thousand a year, his wife earns 20 thousand and they have four children.

They divorce, so now they have two households. The wife has custody of the children. The cost of living is expensive in New Jersey, so Dad obviously has to use a large part of his monthly income.

He could end up paying more than 50% of his salary over to her because he has to support his four children and his wife that was making $20,000 a year. So, that could happen. There are five mouths to feed.

It is a bad situation but that could happen and he may have to either get another job or live with his parents or a friend to make ends meet because the courts aren’t going to have the children on welfare. That’s the bottom line.

Is Child Support Factored into Alimony?

Interviewer: Does the child support amount interact with the alimony amount?

Tanya: The way it works is you have the mother’s income and you have the father’s income. Even if the mother isn’t working, you arrive at some agreed upon figure for both incomes.

Then you have the alimony calculation. So then what you do is you subtract that from the father’s income and give it to mother. So say the father earns 100 thousand and the mother earns 30 thousand, then the father gives the mother $20,000 a year of alimony.

So now the mother has $50,000 and the father has $80,000. Child support guidelines do exist, which are pre-calculated figures for what families spend on children. And then you calculate, based on the overnight visits and other factors and then the child support guidelines are calculated and then the percentages.

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Testimonials
  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought."  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services."  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful.I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

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