need advice for SS calculation

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need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby augustus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:46 am

I've been married 22 years and currently separated; two teenage kids. We're in the midst of divorce mediation and generally on good terms but trying to work out the specific financial agreement. My wife has worked for a public school part-time-3/4 time for the most part and I'm self-employed. I've always done 50/50 of the childcare and cooking etc, and generally worked 60+ hours per week. My income is a lot more than hers but can vary year to year by about 30%
My confusion is regarding how to assess the spousal support based on her part-time work with benefits while I don't have any benefits and worked a lot more than 40 hours per week.
Her financial advisor and the mediator seem to be just plugging in the net earnings on the taxes showing my 1099 earnings from the last tax year and her W2 take-home pay (not reflecting any health/retirement benefits). The last tax year also happened to be a good year for me financially but looking back on previous years, my earnings were lower; and there's no guaranteed income for me year-to-year. Also, I don't necessarily want to be held to working 60+ hours per week if I don't choose to do so.
I've raised this issue a few times in mediation but the mediator seems to just be leaving it up to me to figure out how to factor these things in. This issue is also a bit of a third-rail with my wife and the calm mediation meetings start getting tense when issues of how much work she and I have done. She basically responds that the law is clear, but that's what I'm confused about...We're currently discussing maintaining the spousal support for half the years of the marriage so whatever agreement I agree to will be for 11 years.
So does anyone know how to make some of these adjustments when one of the spouses is self-employed? Since we're in mediation, I can propose whatever I want, but if the law is clear, she may fall back on that regardless....

Thanks for any advice
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby madalex » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:21 am

The law is not clear. Don't take legal advice from your STBX.
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby TJinCA » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:27 am

What state?

In most states the law is not really "clear" for judgment spousal support (or alimony, or maintenance, or whatever your state calls it). Usually there are some number of "factors" defined in the law that a judge must "consider" in setting spousal support amount and duration.

You can do some research on Google to find out what those factors are, and it may be a good idea to talk to a lawyer about what your specific court would typically order. It seems like it should be part of the mediator's job to help you to figure out a number that's fair for both of you and within range of what you'd wind up with in court.

As far as your respective incomes, I'd think about using something like an average over the last three years of the marriage.
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby Tom Kirkpatrick » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:57 am

augustus wrote:I've been married 22 years and currently separated; two teenage kids. We're in the midst of divorce mediation and generally on good terms but trying to work out the specific financial agreement. My wife has worked for a public school part-time-3/4 time for the most part and I'm self-employed. I've always done 50/50 of the childcare and cooking etc, and generally worked 60+ hours per week. My income is a lot more than hers but can vary year to year by about 30%
My confusion is regarding how to assess the spousal support based on her part-time work with benefits while I don't have any benefits and worked a lot more than 40 hours per week.
Her financial advisor and the mediator seem to be just plugging in the net earnings on the taxes showing my 1099 earnings from the last tax year and her W2 take-home pay (not reflecting any health/retirement benefits). The last tax year also happened to be a good year for me financially but looking back on previous years, my earnings were lower; and there's no guaranteed income for me year-to-year. Also, I don't necessarily want to be held to working 60+ hours per week if I don't choose to do so.
I've raised this issue a few times in mediation but the mediator seems to just be leaving it up to me to figure out how to factor these things in. This issue is also a bit of a third-rail with my wife and the calm mediation meetings start getting tense when issues of how much work she and I have done. She basically responds that the law is clear, but that's what I'm confused about...We're currently discussing maintaining the spousal support for half the years of the marriage so whatever agreement I agree to will be for 11 years.
So does anyone know how to make some of these adjustments when one of the spouses is self-employed? Since we're in mediation, I can propose whatever I want, but if the law is clear, she may fall back on that regardless....

Thanks for any advice
You talk as though alimony is the ONLY issue. Well it isn't!!

For example: Where are with regard to parenting time??
FYI - You should be settling parenting time first and foremost. Settle for no less then 50/50.

Think of alimony as a bargaining chip, Bro. If she gets alimony, what will you get of significance in return??

In this game, alimony is highly negotiable. But the other side seems to think it's a given. And from what you've told us, the other side includes the mediator.

If you're not being treated fairly, or if you're being railroaded, nothing prevents you from walking out of mediation. You must never be afraid to stick up for yourself.

What you must never do is take legal advice from the other side. And the other side is EVERYBODY but you.

We need to know your state, Bro.

Tom
Everyone is entitled to my opinion. - Maxine™
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby Trevor » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:20 am

How much time do you spend with the kids? How much better would it be for them if you knocked back to ~40 hours per week?

Are you still living in the same place where the kids are living?
"Personal density is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth."
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby augustus » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:54 am

It took me some time to go through things but here's more info and some initial thoughts I'd like input on.
So I've moved out of the house 3 months ago and my two teenage kids come stay with me every other week (so 50% time.) I have started taking half-day Fridays for my own need for time to relax and help process the divorce and also have started working fewer hours on evenings and weekends and would like to continue with this (so perhaps 45 hours per week total...)

So I'd be interested in anyone's input based on the data I emailed the mediator below. Does it seem reasonable for me to average my income over some recent period of time and deduct some for the significant overtime or is this splitting hairs?


I just emailed our mediator the following:
In terms of my income, the income noted on line 12 for income has varied as follows:
2012: $72,362
2013:$139,412
2014:$200,662
2015:$224,383
2016:$186,571
As I've mentioned, this also represents me working independently 60-70 hours per week as a self employed person with a varying economy. It's true that I can always work longer evenings and even more on the weekends to earn more money, but what's fair and reasonable? If I wanted to scale back to 40 hours per week or if the housing bubble bursts, what then?
So it's not clear to me what number is fair and reasonable to plug in to the child and spousal support calculators. As an independent person I have to decide what to save for retirement and will soon have to start paying my own medical insurance etc. in addition to the varying rental market; child support and spousal support etc.

If I were to address some of my own concerns and thoughts on what is reasonable and fair, if I average my income over the last 5 tax years, this would be $164,678. If I made some adjustment for the fact that I've chosen to work significantly more than "full-time", deducting 15% from this would be $139,976.
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby nr552 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:15 pm

augustus wrote:It took me some time to go through things but here's more info and some initial thoughts I'd like input on.
So I've moved out of the house 3 months ago and my two teenage kids come stay with me every other week (so 50% time)


how is EOW 50% time? More like 14-16% time.
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby augustus » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:28 pm

Hi-not sure why every other week isn't considered 50/50. To clarify, the kids live with me one week then live with my ex the next week etc.....
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby Tom Kirkpatrick » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:32 pm

augustus wrote:I don't necessarily want to be held to working 60+ hours per week if I don't choose to do so.
Here's how this works: If you work 60-70 hrs/wk for the last 4 yrs, you've established status quo. But what's worse is that the judge (if this gets to court) will expect this trend to continue. In this game, the court calculates income, not hours worked. And moreover, once the judge signs the order, thy tally of bricks must not diminish.

You and I both know that 60-70 hrs/wk is unstainable. You need to scale back to something much closer to 40 hrs/wk, which is reasonable, and get her to settle based upon that.

Never lose sight of the fact that your kids need equal access to both parents. And it's in their best interest they have that. But they can't get that if the other side's got you shackled to a 60-70 hr/wk job.

augustus wrote:I've always done 50/50 of the childcare, and cooking etc.....
You've established status quo here as well. As a consequence, you should have no trouble settling parenting time first and foremost. Let no one dissuade you, including the mediator. You want 50/50 locked in before discussing anything else.

Bottom line: With 50/50 locked in, you'll be in a much better position to negotiate everything else.

Tell us about your kids. Hold?? how many??

Which state??

Tom
Everyone is entitled to my opinion. - Maxine™
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Re: need advice for SS calculation

Unread postby Tom Kirkpatrick » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:35 pm

nr552 wrote:How is EOW 50% time?
Point of clarification:

On this forum, EOW = Every Other Weekend; not Every Other Week.

Tom
Everyone is entitled to my opinion. - Maxine™
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