In Virginia, the spouse requesting spousal support often introduces a worksheet showing his/her monthly income and expenses in the hopes of proving that spouse’s need for support. Given the circumstances, these worksheets often included grossly exaggerated expenses. Moreover, they often include expenses associated with other people, like those paid on behalf of the children or other third parties. So what’s a court to do when determining spousal support when it’s faced with expenses that can be associated with both the spouse and the children?
In DeCamp v. DeCamp, Record No. 0860-14-1 (Va. Ct. Appeals 2014), the appellate court answered this question as best it could as follows:
(i) If the expense at issue is divisible, then the spouse seeking support has the burden of apportioning his/her expenses from those of the children or other third parties. If he/she fails to do so, then the trial court may find that the party has failed to introduce sufficient evidence of his/her need apart from the needs of others, which will likely lead to a lower award of spousal support than otherwise expected.
(ii) If the expense at issue is indivisible by nature, however, then it need not be apportioned between the spouse and the children. So, for example, because it’s almost impossible to parse out the amount of electricity used by any one person, it is fine for the court to consider the entire electricity bill to be the spouse’s expense rather than the children’s expense.
(iii) If the expense at issue is trivial, then it need not be apportioned between the spouse and the children. In other words, it’s not judicial error for the trial court to not bother apportioning inconsequential expenses between the spouse and the children.