CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
The issue of child support is a highly charged emotional area of family law. Child support is based on a formula adopted by the state legislature which considers the mother's income, the father's income, and the percentage of time the child spends with each parent. This information is plugged into a judicial council format, a computer application that determines tax consequences and net income for each parent available to the court to award support. If both parents have equal income, and both parents share custody of their child, neither parent will pay child support. They are deemed supporting their child by virtue of having them in their care.
If the parents have 50/50 custody, but one has a higher income, the higher earning parent will pay some support. They will pay 50% less support because they have the child 50% of the time, but support will be due the other parent based on the disparity of the two parents' income. This is due to the legislative intent to balance the child's environment. Hypothetically, in unequal incomes the court does not want the child living, for example, in a studio apartment and a 5 bedroom mansion. So the court awards child support evenly in a 50/50 custody based on equalizing the child's atmosphere in each parent's home.
Again, the issue of spousal support is a highly charged emotional area of law. Out of the sixteen elements of Family Code 4320, the prominent element is the term of the marriage. Marriages of 10 years or more are considered long term and all of code of 4320 is fully relevant. Code 4320 is less relevant to marriages of less than 10 years. A court's criteria focuses on the income of both spouses. The party with the higher income is typically obliged to pay the party with the lower income some spousal support, based on a period of time equivalent to half the term of the marriage. The supported spouse has a duty to become self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time, that time being half the term of the marriage. For example, in a 12 year marriage the supported spouse can expect 6 years of support. The supporting spouse has the right to argue that the supported spouse has the duty to become self-supporting. The supporting spouse at any time after the support is ordered may have a review of the supported spouse's modified capability of self-support, after which the court has the discretion to review that issue and raise or lower support accordingly. In marriages of 30 or more years and parties of older age, the higher income spouse can expect to pay support for the rest of his/her life. Each spouse will equally divide retirement, income, social security benefits, and the like.