I've looked at the statutes, have done the CS worksheet, and have used a few online CS and Alimony calculators, but I'm still not sure I've got it. If we assume that my gross income is $200K and hers is $18K and there are 2 kids, then according to the CS calculations, the child support would be approximately $819/wk or $3300/mo (she currently carries the health/dental).
As I understand it, in calculating alimony, we exclude gross income used to determine child support -- which, apparently, means that we exclude the $200K, which means that alimony = $0.
I understand that the court may characterize all or part of that presumptive child support as alimony. But if I've got that right, that would mean the court could award up to $3300/mo as alimony (meaning $0 as CS), but no more.
If we take CS out of the equation (pretend no kids), then the alimony statute says alimony "should generally not exceed the recipient’s need or 30 to 35 per cent of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes." If we assume 35%, then monthly alimony would be approximately $5308.
Assuming all that's right, then:
1) Is the maximum CS+Alimony: (a)$3300/mo; (b)$5308/mo; or (c) $8608/mo? It seems like it would be (a) because child support is mandatory and gross income used to calculate CS is excluded from the alimony calculation. The court might characterize the CS as alimony, but it can't go higher than (a) without double-dipping into the income used to calculate CS. I can see how it might be (b), if child support is simply considered to be part of the calculated alimony amount rather than calculating CS separately first--in other words, since the calculated alimony > the calculated CS, the court could award the alimony amount and "include" the CS in there. But the online alimony calculator I found, and that said that it factored in the income used to calculate CS, said that the maximum alimony was "child support only." (I don't see how it could be (c) because that would require considering the same income to calculate both CS and Alimony.)
2) Does "should generally not exceed the recipient's need or 30-35% of the difference in gross incomes" mean should not exceed the greater of those, or that it should not exceed the lesser of them? On one hand it seems like it should be "the greater of" because 30-35% of the difference may not be sufficient to meet the recipient's needs. But on the other hand, the recipient's needs might be significantly higher than 30-35% of the difference in income based on lifestyle during the marriage. If it is "the greater of," then that means that the court could order-just as an example-$10K/mo in alimony and include the CS within that. But that would mean that the alimony would be about 60% of the payor's gross income, which seems excessive.
I'm sorry for the length of the question and I greatly appreciate your insights!