Family Law

Divorce Calculating Child Support FAQ



Q: Can the court add the money that I receive from a trust to my regular income in calculating the child support that I pay?

  • A:Such money will likely be treated as "income" for support purposes. However, if it isn't a recurring payment, courts usually take that into account. Child support changes might be limited to the period when payment is received, such as the current year.

    It's also important to know that courts have discretion to go outside of state child support guidelines, especially when a parent has a large amount of assets, but not a lot of income.



Q: I receive some money from my brother's rental property. Can the money that I get from my brother's property be used in calculating my support obligations arising out of the divorce?

  • A:If you report the funds as income on your tax returns, it should be treated as income for child support purposes. 



Q: I'll be inheriting $100k from my father's estate. What will happen to my support obligation?

  • A:State support laws usually have provisions for sudden, one-time receipts of funds, such as an inheritance or other financial windfall. The court will possibly have discretion to award a lump-sum amount under certain conditions, or might do something different. For example, if your state's child support guideline percentage for one child is 20 percent, the court might take $20k and just have you pay it over time until your child is an adult. If you would be paying child support for another 10 years, for example, that would be an extra $2000 a year, or $167 a month.



Q: I'm on social security disability. How will getting those benefits affect my child support obligation?

  • A:In most states, a disabled parent is entitled to a full credit in his or her child support obligation for Social Security payments received by a minor child because of the parent's disability. In other states, the amount of the benefit received is deducted from the total child support of both parents, and the remainder of the support obligation is then divided between the parents in proportion to their incomes.



Q: My ex owns his own business and says that his tax returns don't reflect his "true" income. If child support is decided based on income, what will happen here?

  • A:Your husband and his business are obligated to report accurate income to the IRS on tax returns and related filings. Most states' laws require courts to consider income from all sources when calculating child support. This can include income from wages, interest, dividends and other business sources.



Q: My wife is telling me that my freelance gross income will be included in child support computations, but that I won't be able to deduct any of my business expenses. Is this true?

  • A:The answer to your question will depend on your state's child support laws. Some states' guidelines allow for the deduction of necessary business expenditures from a self-employed individual's income. 



Q: Will things such as 401(k) matching funds and stock options be included in my "gross" income for child support purposes?

  • A:States differ in their definitions of "gross income" and what might be included in the computations to determine child support.

    401(k) deposits might be considered income, or they might not. Your employer's matching funds are more than likely not going to be included, but it depends on state law.

    Stock options, however, may be included in computations. Stock options allow you to defer significant income into the future, thereby avoiding having the support obligation apply to the income. State law might easily include such benefits.

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Jacqueline Newman | April 02, 2015
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