Kevin Qualls Family Law
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What counts as income in a child support calculation?

Like other states, California's child support guidelines rely heavily on income with respect to determining the appropriate amount of child support. The idea is that a child should enjoy the standard of living he or she would have had if the child's parents lived in the same household, and a standard of living for a child ultimately depends a lot on each parent's income.

Although one might think it is pretty easy to figure out what amount of income should go in to the child support calculation for each parent, such is often not the case. For instance, while many people in Orange County work for an employer and make a salary that stays constant from week to week, many other people are self-employed or otherwise have no regular income. Others get income from sources other than work.

Generally speaking, any money that flows in to the hands of either parent counts as income for child support purposes. A California court will look not only at a person's salary but may also consider most forms of Social Security payments, income received from things like tips or commissions, dividends and other investment income, and benefits that are designed to replace a person's income, like unemployment or workers' compensation.

Even items that can get paid in a lump sum, like the lottery, can count as income, although a person may wish to ask that the court consider the one-time nature of such payments.

As one can guess, disputes can arise when parents disagree about whether something counts as income or not or, when one parent unfortunately tries to hide income from the other parent. In other cases, parents might agree on the nature of a source of income but disagree on how it should be calculated.

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