Rob: Hello everyone, we are here with Santa Clarita divorce and family law attorney Rand Pinsky.
Rand Pinsky: Hello Rob.
Rob: Rand, today in this particular video, I want to talk about the issue of child support and spousal support or I guess what they sometimes refer to as alimony.
Rand Pinsky: Sure.
Rob: Can you talk a little bit about these topics?
Rand Pinsky: Of course. Child support is probably the second most discussed item in the divorce process, the first one of course being custody and visitation of the children.
Rob: What are some of the sticking points? For example, I would imagine that one parent might be afraid that they're paying too much or that the money is not being used wisely.
Rand Pinsky: Well, that's one of the arguments you hear 50% of the time and the other argument you hear 50% of the time is I'm not getting enough money to take care of the needs of the children. So of course the supported spouse, or the spouse or the parent that is receiving the child support, always wants to get as much as they can. The parent that is paying the other spouse or the other parent wants to make sure that the money that they're giving is going to the children and the children's welfare and not to the other parent for whatever other reasons.
Rob: What about this notion of something called guideline child support? What is guideline child support?
Rand Pinsky: Guideline child support is the underlying basis and foundation for determining what child support should be. Many years ago, the state legislature came up with a formula to try to determine what child support should be and they wanted something that would be applicable throughout the entire state of California. So they came up with this formula. They called it guideline child support. The formula was very complex, the computer people got involved and they created a tax program called a dissomaster. The dissomaster is the tool that both family law judges and family law attorneys use to determine what guideline child support should be and under most situations, a court is bound to award guideline child support in any divorce process.
Rob: So this dissomaster is essentially a software program.
Rand Pinsky: Yes.
Rob: And the idea is to try to make it uniform across the state.
Rand Pinsky: Correct.
Rob: What are some of the variables that affect child support?
Rand Pinsky: Well the two main variables that go into the formula are one the percentage of time each parent has with the minor child and two the income each party has. So theoretically, if you are the spouse or the parent that has the children, the more time you have the child, the more money you're going to get, whereas on the other hand if you're the paying spouse, or the paying parent, the more time you have the child, the less support you'll have to pay. And then of course the income of both sides vary and that's used to try to make the determination as to what support should be.
Rob: Well what about some other variables? Let's say for example a kid needs a lot of daycare or they're involved in a very expensive sport like hockey or something that requires a lot of money, are those also variables?
Rand Pinsky: Absolutely. There are something called add ons. So other things that you look at would be daycare, or special needs, if they need tutors, these types of things, the hockey, et cetera, extra curricular activities, these things are added on to the guideline support and usually they're divided 50-50 among the parties. You also have health care. Is one party paying for health insurance? If that's the case, they get credit for that type of health insurance and the dollar amounts they're paying. So this dissomaster tax program takes all of these things into consideration and then comes up with a number. And of course depending on whether you represent the paying spouse or the receiving spouse, you're going to argue over some of these particular issues as to what goes into the formula.
Rob: Now earlier we mentioned the notion of spousal support or alimony. How does that figure into all of this?
Rand Pinsky: Spousal support or alimony, alimony is the old term from 35, 40 years ago. That's to determine what kind of assistance the spouse is going to receive. When a divorce case starts, a spouse is usually entitled to some type of temporary spousal support. In California, we have a law that says if a marriage is more than 10 years in length, a party is entitled to long term spousal support, but it's not necessarily they're entitled to get the actual dollar amount, it means that they always retain the right to ask for it. In a marriage less than 10 years, the court has the ability to put a cut off date as to support and the general rule is that usually you can get spousal support for half of the length of the marriage.
Rob: These are of course issues that you would discuss during the initial consultation, correct?
Rand Pinsky: Yes you would.
Rob: Okay. Now if somebody wanted to get in touch with you and they have a child support issue, or spousal support issue, how can they get in touch with you?
Rand Pinsky: The best way is to go to my web site RandPinsky.com or call me at (661)295-4644.
Rob: Thank you very much for the time you spent with us today Rand.
Rand Pinsky: Thank you Rob.