I am often approached by attorneys wanting to know what the story is behind the “B-key” that they hear about in preparing DissoMaster calculations. As you may know, DissoMasterTM is one of several programs that calculate spousal and child support based on user input of income, deductions, and adjustments. Typically, after the inputs are made, a monthly guideline support figure is calculated for child and spousal support.

In preparing the calculation of guideline spousal support, the program elects to use a “fixed shares method” when adjusting for the net tax consequences of guideline spousal support. After an initial calculation of spousal support, there is a tax benefit from the proposed payment benefiting the payor spouse. This tax savings modifies the net spendable income, which prompts the program to make another calculation of spousal support, a so-called additional iteration. The program continues to make additional calculations (iterations) of spousal support based on the net tax savings generated from the prior calculated spousal support, until no more adjustment to the net spendable income is calculated.

The orange line in the table below demonstrates the percentage of combined spendable allocated to the recipient spouse, generated by DissoMaster using the fixed shares method. Using the fixed shares method, the allocation remains constant at 40%.

The blue line in the table below demonstrates the percentage of combined spendable allocated to the recipient spouse, generated by DissoMaster using a “floating shares method” to calculate. Using a floating shares method, the program calculates each party’s tax savings and liability separately when calculating the guideline spousal support for each iteration. The percentage of combined spendable income changes in each calculation, prompting the use of the term “floating”. The result is a moderate reduction in the amount of guideline support generated by using the floating shares method in DissoMaster.

The red line in the table below demonstrates the percentage of combined spendable allocated to the recipient spouse, generated by DissoMaster using an “unadjusted shares method” to calculate. In the unadjusted calculation, the program stops calculating the impact of the tax savings on the payment of spousal support after only one iteration. It is for this reason that there is a significant reduction in the amount of guideline spousal support calculated using the unadjusted shares method.

Use of DissoMaster in Family Law. Child Support/Spousal Support.

The “B-key” in DissoMaster acts as a toggle switch. Pressing the B key on the keyboard once will change the spousal support adjustment method from the program default of “fixed shares method” to “unadjusted shares method”. The resulting guideline spousal support is reduced accordingly. Pressing the B key on the keyboard one more time returns the spousal support adjustment method to the default “fixed shares method”. Holding the Ctrl button down on the keyboard while pressing the B key has the effect of adding a third option in the toggle order, that of a “floating shares method” calculation. Each of these adjustments can be determined by looking at the Spousal Support section in the Support tab of the program.

Using the B-key, the guideline spousal support is decreased. Many attorneys use this decrease in estimating a permanent spousal support amount, assuming that the permanent support order will be a reduction from the guideline temporary support. In accordance with Family Code §4320, the Court must consider all the factors enumerated in that section when making a determination of permanent spousal support. Although the consideration of the FC §4320 factors does not preclude the amount of permanent spousal support from being higher than the guideline amount, the reality is that temporary spousal support will tend to be higher than permanent support. It is for this reason that attorneys reach for some tool to help them settle cases, hence the use of the B-key.

To “B” or not to “B” is indeed the question (courtesy of William Shakespeare). At least the above information will hopefully assist in understanding how to proceed.

Our Family Law department finds the “B” key very useful. Let us know what you think about the “B” key and any other valuable features of DissoMaster.

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3 Comments

  1. Debra Vanover says:

    In many states, if your separately owned property increases in value during the marriage, that increase is also considered marital property. However some states will differentiate between active and passive appreciation when deciding if an increase in the value of separate property should be considered marital property.
    The question is Stock Certificates. I am filling out enormous amounts of affidavits and assets inventory worksheets prepping for our Divorce. Husband abandoned me after 26 yrs of marriage.
    I owned thousands of shares of Stock prior to marriage in 1989. Those certificates were used to purchase Annuities, Charitable Trust Funds, 529’s, Irrevocable Trust Funds, IRA’s, Variable Life Insurance Policies and a profitable business franchise during the duration of our marriage. Now comes the Forensics accountants question. What does this process en tale, gathering all the stock certificate Cusips, various brokerage account statements, trailing the stock splits, the various institution mergers, and legal trust documents out of vaults to salvage the balance on these accounts, cash surrender approx. 1.5 million. Please advise before I spend MORE money on enormous retainer fees. Thanks! frustrated in NC

    1. David J Semus says:

      Dear Frustrated in NC,
      First, I would suggest you obtain the services of an attorney that understands the laws in your state.
      We are not attorneys, however we often assist attorneys in preparing analyses to support the separate/community property component of investments in divorce actions. In California, the appreciation of your separate property in a passive investment will generally continue to be your separate property. Active participation during marriage in a separate property investment may generate a community component in the investment. The burden of tracing a separate property claim is on the party making the assertion. To that end, it is incumbent on the asserting party to maintain all records necessary to establish the separate property claim. The more records you maintain, the better your chances of establishing the separate property interest.
      Good Luck.

  2. SuperMan2 says:

    Interesting post. Thanks for making things so clear. I look forward to your follow up post.

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