Q: I have a question about spousal support and child custody.
Married 18 years, with three girls age 17, 15 and 10. I net $8000 per month, have worked as a civil servant in the U.S. defense industry for almost 40 years. My wife works part time but started that years ago when our girls were small. No need anymore since they are older. She still refuses to go back to work full time although she can easily. She is asking for $4500 of my net pay. Plus child support, plus wants custody of our girls with me seeing them just every other weekend.
If she gets that I would have maybe $2000 left to live on, which would be impossible with bills. I also want 50/50 custody as I have been with my girls since day one. ALWAYS home with them, wife sometimes out partying.
1. What are the chances she will get $4500 or more? Is there common criteria for this?
2. especially when she is capable of working full time?
3. What are the chances I won't get 50/50 custody? Especially since my girls are older. Wife and I will live just a few miles from each other.
A: It sounds like the initial ask is for temporary spousal support, which is often calculated by inputting the couple's income into one of two computer programs called "Dissomater" or "Xspouse." Most attorney's pay for a license to use this program and can give you a ballpark figure. I highly recommend that you consult with an attorney who can calculate those figures for you. If you two cannot settle on an agreeable number before a hearing, then you folks will end up letting the judge decide. The judge will probably use one of the programs to arrive at the temporary spousal support number. But remember, if you two can settle on an agreeable number, you won't have to leave it to chance, because no one can predict what the judge will do.
However, long-term spousal support is not calculated on a computer program. Instead, the support amount is arrived at based on a long list of factors that you can find in Family Law Code Section 4320. As you will see if you read the code, the supported party's (i.e., your wife) ability to work is one of the factors considered. Since your marriage was in excess of 10 years, spousal support is likely. Again, you could really benefit by spending some time with an attorney.
No one can predict what your chances of getting 50/50 custody are because there are so many unknowns especially if you leave it up to the judge to decide. The court will look at what the "best interests of the children" are. Generally, with two perfect parents, living close together, there is a good argument that the parents should have 50/50 custody. The law recognizes the importance of having both parents involved in their children's lives as much as possible and it doesn't favor the mother over the father. I hope you can get some time with an attorney well before you need to respond to her requests because you have a lot of important issues to get advice on.
The information that I provided is not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship has been formed. Best of luck!
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