Platt v. Platt
In the recent decision of Platt v. Platt, the Appellate court endorsed the practice of “income averaging” for purposes of determining a self-employed divorce litigant’s income in order to calculate alimony and child support. In Platt, the court was confronted with a husband/father who was self-employed and solely responsible for setting his income level. The Court took note of the fact that his income inexplicably decreased in the two years immediately preceding the divorce filing even though the company remained profitable. Attempting to create a fair support obligation, the court felt that averaging his income for the past five years was warranted. This decision underscores the courts desire to create support awards that are based on the actual marital lifestyle as opposed to focusing only on recent earnings. Particularly when child support is involved, such an approach is necessary so that the children of the marriage continue to benefit from the economic successes of their parents. The Platt decision also reinforces the statutory criteria relevant to determining alimony and child support obligations; particularly the standard of living established during the marriage, the earning capacities of the parties, and the history of financial contributions to the marriage made by either party.