Just about everyone who is going through a divorce or has gone through a divorce is familiar with the “DissoMaster” and its infinite wisdom of computing child and spousal support. For those not so familiar, the DissoMaster computes support amounts based on parties income, a variety of tax deductions and a few other miscellaneous financial factors.
The amount of support paid can be dramatically different even while the income of the parties stays the same if certain items are omitted from the DissoMaster calculations. This could impact how much support you are paying or being paid by thousands of dollars depending on what information is omitted.
There are items that are always included in the DissoMaster calculations and other items that attorneys or propria personas (parties representing themselves) often detrimentally forget to include. Basic items that are always included in any DissoMaster is the income of both parties, the number of children, and what percentage of time each party spends with the children. These are considered the “no brainers” when calculating support.
It can get a little more tricky when you start adding in tax deductions into the DissoMaster. While there are many things that could potentially be included in the calculations, below is a list of things that could potentially significantly impact the amount of support paid:
Health Insurance: The amount you and the other party pay for health insurance should be included on your respective sides of the calculations. This includes the health insurance premiums you pay for yourself and the children and the other party if you are currently paying a premium on their behalf as well. Typically, adding your health insurance premiums will increase the amount of support you receive if you’re the payee and decrease the amount of support you pay if you are the payor.
Union Dues: If you pay union dues, this should be included on your side of the calculations. Typically, adding union dues will increase the support you receive if you’re the payee and decrease the amount of support you pay if you are the payor.
Mandatory Retirement: This usually only applies to government employees who are required to contribute to their retirement plans. Government employees usually are required to contribute large amounts monthly so it is important to make sure this is added to the calculations if you are the one with the mandatory retirement contribution.
Property Tax and Deductible Interest Expense: In my experience, this is the one that gets left off most often but could potentially have the largest impact in changing support obligations. If the other party pays property tax and has a deductible interest expense, you want to include it in the DissoMaster calculations. These numbers can be found on a tax return and as such are very easy to prove. Once you have the numbers from the tax return, that number needs to be divided by twelve (12) and added as an itemized deduction.
I should note, if the other party forgot to add one of these deductions, sometimes it is your best interest not to point this out to them. If the other party did forget to add a deduction it might be helpful to talk to an attorney familiar with DissoMaster to run the numbers before and after the deduction was added to see if it is in your best interest to bring it to the attention of the other party.