What counts as income in a child support calculation?

The calculation of child support payments differs widely by state, but in general, child support calculation is based on the broad definition of your total income after taxes and after deductions have been taken out. In other words, child support calculation is based on your net income. However, while the vast majority of states use your net income as the basis for the support calculation, there are a few that calculate based on gross income. Regardless of whether net or gross income is used, this number is then put through another series of deductions and calculations, depending on laws in your area, to determine how much you must pay. 

What Counts as Income

Since a court begins by first looking at how much you make, it is important to understand exactly what they mean by income or earnings. In terms of what actually counts as income, this too varies by state law. In some cases, the word is used in a very broad sense, and may include wages, assets, pensions, annual gifts, and more. In other states, it is defined only by what is earned at a job.

In any state, a person who is far below the poverty level will likely not be asked to pay any child support; nor will public assistance payments made to the parent be calculated as income for child support purposes.

How Child Support is Calculated

When calculating child support, the court in your state will begin by looking at how much you bring home (either your net income or gross income) and will then look at various other factors to determine how much of that income should go towards supporting your child.

The child support calculation is based on various formulas, which take into account the parents' income, the number of children, the level of expenses, and various other details like whether childcare is required or whether a parent also has other dependents. 

Getting Help

For assistance with understanding the child support calculation and specific child support rules in your state, you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer