Q: Is there a simple mathematical formula for calculating alimony in a divorce? Is the amount of alimony given a matter of negotiation?
It is a matter of negotiation, but there are certain parameters that everybody’s supposed to use. It’s based on the other side’s need for the money and one side’s ability to pay. What’s happening in divorce is that typically, the same money that is used to support one house is now being called upon to support two houses, and so it doesn’t go as far. The old saying “two isn’t cheap versus one” is so true. Now that there are two houses you’re not able to buy as much or have as much. Typically when you have a divorce, there is going to be alimony paid, with both sides having to take a step back and maybe have a little lower standard of living. What the courts are not going to do is have somebody getting alimony at a higher standard and a person paying at a lower standard. They’re trying to keep it balanced. This is why everybody takes a step back to see how much is being paid and being received. Both sides will more or less have to have the same standard of living.
Q: Is there software that the court often uses to calculate alimony? Or is that just for child support?
That’s for child support, and for what is referred to as temporary alimony. At the beginning of a divorce, the courts make child support orders and determine whether it’s enough. They also make alimony orders, which is really just an initial sharing of income, so the money is better distributed once people have split up. Because they have to make calculations fairly quickly, there is a computer program. However, when it comes to the final alimony number at the end of the divorce case, the courts are not allowed to use the computer numbers.