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How Is Income Factored in a Child Support Calculation?

To calculate child support, courts use a calculator program on their computers. The judge inputs data obtained at a hearing or trial, and the program produces a monthly child support amount. While this seems simple, the calculation itself is complicated. So it is important for parties litigating a child support issue to understand how the calculation works and what is important in the calculation.

Child Support Calculation

One of the most important pieces of data in the child support calculation is a party’s net disposable income. The child support guidelines and the calculator consider income that is received from all sources, not just the income reported on taxes. The calculator may consider the following types of income:

  • Regular employment wages
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Income from self-employment
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Interest from any source
  • Dividends
  • Income from rents
  • Social security income
  • Pension income
  • Lottery winnings (or any prize winnings)

The court then calculates a party’s net disposable income by adding the income from the categories above, and subtracting expenses and other costs, such as:

  • Taxes
  • Mandatory payments (union dues, retirement, etc.)
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Child support or alimony being paid
  • Expenses associated with raising a child from a different relationship

What Happens If a Party Doesn’t Have an Income?

If a parent is able to earn an income, but isn’t earning any money, the court may “impute” the party an income. By “imputing” an income to a party, the court is assigning that party the income they would have received if they were working in appropriate employment. This means that if a party has a college degree, several years of work experience, previously made $100,000 per year, but now is working a minimum wage job, the court can impute that party an annual income of $100,000 because that is the income the party can make.

What Won’t the Court Consider as Income for Child Support?

Despite the many different sources of income the guidelines allow the court to look at, they will not include:

  • Non-taxable income
  • Non-taxable social security
  • Tax-exempt interest (i.e., from municipal savings bonds)
  • New spouse’s income
  • New spouse’s social security
  • Public assistance

This is just one of the issues involved with a California child support calculation. The complexity of this one part illustrates the similar complexity of other parts and the entire calculation. While simply plugging numbers into the calculator is easy for judges, making sure the judges have the right numbers to plug in is another story.

Landon Law can Help You with Your California Child Support Case

If you live in Mission Viejo, California and are facing a child support issue, you can rely on the family law attorneys at Landon Law Firm. We welcome your call today at (949) 257-5188 to learn more about how they can help you.

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