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How the Child Support Guidelines Defines Income

How the Child Support Guidelines Defines Income

The Child Support Guidelines first set out a broad list of sources of income. It is important to note that the definition applies to gross income from any source, regardless of whether it is reported by the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Revenue. The sources listed range from obvious sources, like salaries and wages, to other sources such as income derived from interest in an estate, lottery winnings, and spousal support. Additionally, self-employment income is defined as the gross income received minus any ordinary and necessary expenses required to complete the work. The list is not exhaustive, and ends with a catch-all provision for any other form of income not listed.

Any public assistance benefit like TAFDC, SNAP, and SSI benefits are excluded and do not fall under the Child Support Guidelines income definition. Also, if a parent is receiving social security benefits or social security disability benefits and the child receives a dependency benefit, this income should be added to the gross income of the parent from which the benefit derives. In some cases, the dependency benefit amount may exceed the calculated child support obligation, and in that case the benefit takes the place of any obligation. In the event that the amount of the dependency benefit does not reach the amount calculated for child support, the parent will need to pay the difference.

In regard to overtime income or income from a second job, the Court will have to first look at certain factors before disregarding it. The Court will have to look at the history of the income, the expectation of the continuation of that income, the needs of the parties and the children, the impact the work schedule will have on the parenting plan, and whether the job requires the extra work. The Court can choose how much of this income to look at, if any at all, even if it was earned prior to the entry of the child support order. If the order is already entered and the party begins to work overtime or a second job only after the entry of the order, it shall not be considered in a future child support order.

If any income is unreported, the Court may look at evidence presented and choose to impute income to the parent. The Court may also increase the income to account for the amount that is not going toward paying taxes. The Court may also attribute income to a party in the event that he or she is unemployed or underemployed and will look at factors such as education, skills, or training to determine how much income to attribute. Finally, the income of a non-parent guardian is not considered in these calculations. The interests of the children is the primary focus in creating the Child Support Guidelines and that policy is clear in the very broad definition of income.

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