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Spousal Support when High Income Earner has inflated Expenses

When the court looks as a Spousal Support order, it looks at the parties’ respective needs and ability to pay support. It is the court’s desire to assist the lower income spouse to meet their monthly expenses but making a support order from the higher income spouse. However, there are times when the lower income spouse’s expenses were artificially inflated and the higher income spouse’s income is not sufficient to meet these expenses. A case that discussed this particular fact pattern is IRMO Williamson. In IRMO Williamson, the Second District Court affirmed a trial court that ordered Husband to pay $1,235 in child support and $2,000 in permanent spousal support although the parties' expenses during marriage averaged $45,000 per month. It held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to treat his "historical cash advances" from his parents as "income," holding that they were loans against his inheritance and therefore excludable as income. Also, "the advances ceased before trial and there was no evidence that they would resume." The panel did modify the judgment to "charging temporary support payments to the community," rather than H. This case is in stark contrast to the Alter case whereby the court attributed monthly gifts from H’s parents to H and he was charged with these monthly gifts and thus increased his ability to pay support.