Differences in income

The strategies/formulas selected for the analyses required the use of gross rather than net income. The child/children’s primary residence was required to determine the income adequacy of the post-divorce households. For example, cases were included when the mother or father was ordered physical custody, as well as cases where joint custody was ordered, and the primary residence was specified as either with the mother or father. Cases were not included where joint custody was ordered and there was no information regarding the child/children’s primary residence.

Income adequacy could not be calculated for varying amounts of time a child might spend with each parent. It was difficult to determine how much time the child/children spent with each parent in joint physical custody cases. The percentage of joint physical custody cases in the study sample was significantly lower than in the entire sample, because many of the cases did not specify a primary residence for the child/children, or the percentage of time that each parent would have the child/children. The child support ordered in the final decree was needed to calculate the income adequacy of both post-divorce households.

Cases were included in the sample when it was possible to determine the amount of child support ordered to be paid by either the mother or father, such as when the order stated the amount was based on the Minnesota statutes. The researcher made these calculations, when the dollar amount was not specified in the final decree. Cases where neither the mother nor the father were ordered to pay support, or child support was reserved (the court did not order support at the time of the decree), were included in the analyses.

In both situations, it was possible to determine the post-divorce household’s income, by calculating the parental incomes without subtracting or adding a child support amount to either household. Finally, in some instances, a child support order was missing in the final decree. Cases in which the child support order was missing were not used in the analyses because it was impossible to calculate the household’s post-divorce income without knowing whether a child support decision was made.

The resulting sample for the current study included 414 divorce cases that met the selection criteria. The mean length of marriage in the sample was 12. 49 years (SD = 6. 83). The mean age for females was 36. 78 years (SD = 7. 14) and 39. 02 years (SD = 7. 35) for males. Mean annual household gross income was $74,935 (SD = $66,004. 87). Mean monthly gross income for females in 1999 was $2,567. 05 (SD = $4,400. 80).

The mean monthly gross income for males was $3,677. 56 (SD = $2,753. 21). Mothers were more often the post divorce primary physical custodians of children 89.6% compared to fathers 10. 4%. Most cases involved one (39. 6%) or two (44%) children, and fewer divorcing parents had three (13%), four (2. 9%), or five (. 5%) children. Information on ethnicity was not reported in court records. The cases in the study sample did not differ from the unselected cases in regard to income, age, or length of marriage. There were significant differences in primary physical custody and the number of cases from urban and rural counties. Differences in income-to-needs ratios could not be calculated.

The difference in monthly and annual gross incomes of males and females in the unselected and selected cases was not statistically significant. Gross incomes were reported for 809 males and 795 females within the full sample (both selected and unselected cases) of 1,708 households. Subtracting the 414 cases selected in the selected sample, 395 males remained in the unselected sample, with a mean monthly gross income of $4,490. 57 (SD = $8,284. 98) which was not statistically different from the selected study sample mean of $3,677, (SD = $2,753), t (807) = 1. 855, p>. 05.