10 Jan DissoMaster: Calculating Child Support and Spousal Support
The “DissoMaster” is a program used by Los Angeles Superior Court, and many other courts, as well as the majority of family law attorneys to calculate child and spousal support. The DissoMaster computes child and/or spousal support based on the income of the parties, the timeshare with the children, and a variety of expenses and tax implications.
The DissoMaster calculation of child and spousal support can differ from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars if not done correctly. You should make sure that the person running the DissoMaster report understands how to use it and what tax deductions are appropriate. The information imputed in the DissoMaster can increase the support you are paying or being paid by thousands of dollars. If not done correctly, and depending on what information is omitted, you could be shorting yourself a substantial amount of money.
There are items that are always included in the DissoMaster calculations. There are other items that attorneys, or parties representing themselves, often detrimentally forget, or do not know, to include. Basic items that are should always be included in any DissoMaster report are: the income of both parties, the number of children, and the percentage of time each party spends with the children.
It can get a little more complicated when you start adding 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 you should include into the DissoMaster as they could impact the amount of support paid:
Other Taxable Income: Other taxable income include (but are not limited to) capital gains, dividends, social security, unemployment compensation, rental income. Income from these sources should be included in the DissoMaster. If the amounts are substantial, the impact it makes on the DissoMaster is also substantial.
Retirement Plan Contributions: To get an accurate number for the cash flow you have available for support, your retirement plan contributions should be included in the DissoMaster.
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. If you are paying support and are also paying health insurance for the family, make sure to include health insurance as it will reduce the amount of support you will be paying.
Union Dues: If you pay union dues, this should be included on your side of the calculations.
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, these are the deductions that get left off the 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. Having a large tax deduction for property taxes and deductible interest expense means that you’ll have more money in your pocket for the payment of support (or more money in your pocket so you’ll need less support).
I should note, if the other party forgot to add one of these deductions, sometimes it is in your best interest not to point this out to the other party. 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. Call Mioni Family Law at (424) 259-1770 to set up a consultation to go over how much you should be paying or receiving in support.