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.
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.