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Child Expenses in Determining Alimony

When deciding whether to include your children’s expenses into your household income, it is necessary to consider the following decision.

Typically, child support was considered separate, set aside for the children, and not treated as income to the wife when calculating alimony.

In Dobson v. Dobson, 2012 UT App 373, however, because the wife included the children’s expenses in her financial declaration, the Utah Court of Appeals found that the trial court committed no error when it reduced the wife’s need for alimony by the amount of child support she received.

Moreover, though the husband’s “ability to pay” typically increases after the children reach the age of majority, alimony was not increased because again, the wife included the children’s expenses in her household expenses on her financial declaration. The presumption was that the children were no longer a burden financially to the wife once the children reach 18 years of age.  Thus, when child support decreased upon a child’s turning 18, the wife’s disposable income increased as well because the children were no longer a legal expense.

This reasoning is more fiction than reality. By including the children’s expenses in the wife’s household income, the wife got hit coming and going. Careful thought needs to go into the decision of whether to include the minor children’s expenses in the wife’s household expenses.

Both options should be considered and the results at trial anticipated.

 By Lewis P. Reece