Child support orders have a lasting financial impact on both parties. The income to the recipient will be tax-free, while the payor will be denied a deduction. Furthermore, an attorney may advocate for a calculation of child support influenced by earning capacity, or assets to increase the amount ordered. In light of the significant financial impact of child support orders, many clients benefit from experienced legal counsel.
Accurate Counsel, Affordable Fees
Unlike many child support attorneys, I don’t believe that “aggressive” representation is a replacement for the established child support calculation found in the California Family Code. (In truth, family court judges are tired of “aggressive” attorneys with loser arguments who put on a performance for their client). Instead of investing in hail-mary arguments, I focus on more realistic points that may influence the calculation. From the day I’m retained I set realistic goals with my clients based upon Dissomaster calculations and evidence of income.
To schedule a consultation call my office Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Child Support FAQs
What is the key factor in calculating child support?
The net disposable income is the key financial factor in calculating child support. The Statewide Uniform Guideline for determining child support is based on an algebraic formula, the central element of which is each parent’s net monthly disposable income. The second most important factor is the time-share of the children.
How is the net disposable income computed?
The net disposable income is computed based on the annual gross income minus allowable deductions.
What is gross income?
The law broadly defines gross income as the income from whatever source derived, except for income that is legally exempt from the child support calculation.
What does the gross income include?
The annual gross income includes both mandatory and discretionary items.
What are the mandatory items and discretionary items?
The mandatory items are sources of income that the court must include in computing the annual gross income. The discretionary items are sources of income that the court may or may not include in computing the annual gross income.
What are the examples of mandatory income?
The following are examples of mandatory items:
- Salaries and Wages.
- Bonuses and Commissions.
- Business and Self Employment Incomes.
- Dividends and Interest.
- Pensions and Annuities.
- Worker’s Compensation Benefits.
- Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
- Disability insurance benefits.
- Social security benefits.
- Military allowances.
- Trust income.
How is business income computed if it is included in the gross income?
The parent’s business income is composed of the gross receipts from the business reduced by the expenditures required for the operation of the business.
Are bonuses and commissions also included in the computation of gross income?
Yes. As a general rule, bonuses and sales commissions are ordinarily included in the calculation of the party’s gross income.
I receive bonuses and commissions, but it all depends on my boss. Is it included in the computation of gross income?
In determining whether or not to include bonuses and commissions, the court distinguishes between it being predictable or speculative. The predictable bonuses or commissions follow a certain predictable pattern and must be included in computing the annual gross income. The speculative bonuses, or commissions, however, do not follow a pattern, as it depends on the discretion of the boss. In this case, the court may either totally exclude any bonuses/commissions or order that a certain percentage be paid as additional support when a bonus or commission is received.
Is my overtime pay included in the computation of gross income?
Yes. Overtime earnings must be ordinarily included in the calculation of the parent’s gross income.
Are there instances when overtime pay may be excluded from the computation of gross income?
Yes. Overtime earnings may be excluded in the following cases:
- There is evidence that it is unlikely that the overtime income will continue. For example, when there has been a change in the employment conditions or when the parent is no longer willing to accept voluntary overtime.
- Imputing overtime in the calculation would lock a parent into an “excessively onerous work schedule.”
I have employee stock options. Are these considered included in gross income?
Yes. The employee’s stock options are part of the parent’s employee compensation package and must be included in the income in determining child support when the option is exercised.
What if I don’t exercise my stock options, is it still included in computing gross income?
This is a gray area. There doesn’t seem to be any reported California cases on whether unexercised stock options can be considered as income for determining support. But an Ohio case has been held that a vested option that has not been exercised may be considered as income on the theory that it would be part of the income if the parent simply exercised the option.
I received some gifts and inheritance from a relative. Are these included in the computation of gross income?
Although proceeds from inheritances and gifts are generally not considered income for child support purposes, interest, rents, dividends, or other forms of income actually earned from gifts and inheritances are considered income in calculating child support.
Can I Reduce My Child Support Because I’m Retiring
Maybe, and maybe not. The basis for modifying child support due to retirement is that you will experience a reduction in income. However, the court will want to determine whether your retirement is voluntary. If your retirement is voluntary, the court may impute the difference in income and not lower your child support. However, if you are old, incapable of working, exhausted ways to mitigate your loss of income, and your children are nearly adults, you’ll have a stronger case for modifying child support.