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How do you show income for a child support calculation?

UPDATED: February 11, 2011

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When child support or spousal support is calculated, the courts will generally look at each spouse/parent's income and then apply a specific formula based on that income to determine how much will be owed. As such, it is important to understand exactly what is considered income for alimony or child support purposes, as well as how income is shown or proven to the court. 

Each parent or spouse will be expected to be honest and forthcoming about his or her income in situations where child support or alimony is being determined. The court can require documentary evidence, such as pay statements, profit/loss statements of sole proprietorship, and tax returns, in order to ensure that the parties are disclosing all sources of funds to the court. When such documents are required, they must be produced and certified as true under penalty of perjury. The intent of this requirement is that all income received by a parent will be considered when his or her net income is being calculated. 

The exact definition of what is considered "income" and what is looked at by the court may vary by state. In general, however, income from a job or a business the party runs is considered income, as is investment income and income from rental properties. Things that may not be considered "income" for child support purposes include any child support payments being made for another child at the time, or any benefits offered through public assistance programs like welfare.

If one party suspects that the other is hiding income -- such as by not reporting "cash" or "off the books" income -- it may be difficult to prove. However, an experienced lawyer may be able to assist you in gathering the evidence you need and can put you in touch with the proper experts- like forensic accountants- who can help make sure your child gets the support he deserves. Child support is complicated but important. If you are involved in a child support case, it is imperative you have a lawyer on your side to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible in the court system.

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