"Is spousal support based on the needs of the spouse?"
There is a formula, a straight percentage, with respect to spousal support. If there are no children in the marriage, the spouse with the lower income will receive 40% of the net income differential between the parties' income. If there are children involved they're going to receive 30%.
Let's say that the spouse with more income makes $4,000 net after taxes per month, and the lesser income spouse makes $2,000 per month after taxes. The total income between the two of them is $6,000. If they had no children what the court would do is subtract from the $4,000 the lesser income. So you come out with $2,000 differential. Because there are no children they will simply multiply that by .4, or 40%, and that would come out to $800. The spouse with more money would pay $800 in spousal support to the spouse with less money.
Now let's say there's children involved, with a child support determination of $1,000 per month. In that example you would take the $4,000 minus the $2,000, which leaves $2,000, and then you would subtract $1,000 support obligation and you'd wind up with $1,000 left over. You'd multiply that by 30%, because there's children involved, which would come out to $300.
So the spousal support order under that example would be $300; a total of spousal support and child support in that example of $1,100 per month. Very formulaic.
The expenses such as childcare, summer camp, extracurricular activities and medical bills handled by the courts are on top of the base child support, and they are shared by the parties in the ratio of their incomes.
Using the example of 4,000 and 2,000 that would be a one-third, two-third ratio. So the parents would be responsible one-third, two-thirds for those kinds of expenses, including childcare, summer camp, medical expenses etc.
David L. Ladov is a partner and co-chair of the Family Law Group at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. He focuses his practice on divorce, including custody, child support, equitable distribution, abuse and domestic relations. David can be reached at (267) 675-4976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.