How is income determined in spousal support situations?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2019 | divorce

For divorcing couples in Louisiana, a common concern is spousal support. This is an issue for the paying spouse – the obligor – and the supported spouse. It is a natural inclination for the supporting party to want to keep the amount limited to what they believe they can afford. The supported spouse will obviously want the payments to be as much as possible so they can maintain the lifestyle they had during the marriage. To keep disputes to a minimum, the state has strategies it uses to determine the spouses’ income and help with making the support award. Both sides should understand this law.

The court will receive an income statement from both parties. This must show their gross income and adjusted gross income. There must be information as to what they earned in the past and what they are currently earning. Employer statements and pay stubs are sufficient to determine how much the person earns. There must also be the latest federal tax return. The other party will receive this information. If there is a business that one of the other party owns or is owned in tandem, income information for this must be provided.

In some cases, there are allegations that income is being hidden or underreported. The court will want evidence to determine whether this is the case or not as it tries to determine the true income. It will want the following: redirected income; payments the paying spouse or the business makes to relatives by way of wages or salary; deferred income; and the standard of living and assets.

The redirected income constitutes loans that business owner might have taken out but need to be repaid. Payments to relatives result in the presumption that it is income of the paying spouse – this can be rebutted if there was a history of these payments and it is due to fair value for services rendered. Deferred income includes bonuses, management fees, dividends and income that will be received later. The standard of living will be assessed in compassion to the paying spouse’s lifestyle and if it is consistent with the reported income.

If the paying spouse’s income cannot be established, then wage and earnings surveys from government agencies can be admissible. A contentious issue in any divorce is spousal support. Before the court can decide on how much will be paid, it must have an accurate depiction of the earnings of the parties. Understanding the law and how this can impact a case and the amount in spousal support is imperative in a case. A law firm that handles family law, divorce, spousal support and more should be contacted for representation.

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