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Defining Income for Child Support: Three Points to Consider

When determining an amount for a party’s child support obligation, a formula is used. It addresses expenses such as health insurance premiums for the children, daycare, and overnight parenting time credit. But, what number is used as a party’s “income”?

Income for child support purposes is weekly gross income. Gross weekly income is defined as follows by the Indiana Child Support Guidelines: “actual weekly gross income of the parent if employed to full capacity, potential income if unemployed or underemployed, and imputed income based upon “in‑kind” benefits.”1 The Guidelines go on to offer other clarifications and included income.

What all is included as income for child support purposes? These three (3) points may be considered.

1. Unemployment or underemployment

If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, income may be imputed to them. Often, it can be the amount of income from previous employment or minimum wage if the parent is unemployed. It is likely an amount at least minimum wage will be imputed.

2. Bonuses-sometimes in, sometimes out

Whether or not a parent’s bonuses are included in income depends on the case. If a yearly bonus is guaranteed, it may be included. If bonuses are sporadic and have not been paid for several years, the bonus income may not be included as income. Another option is to have a percentage of the parent’s bonus be paid as child support once the bonus has been paid out based on the ratio of child support obligation. Again, this is fact sensitive and may vary from case to case.

3. Subsequent spouse income

If a parent has remarried, the other party may seek to include income from a subsequent spouse to be included as income for child support purposes. Generally, a subsequent spouse’s income is not included along with the parent’s income unless the parent is unemployed or underemployed and being supported by the subsequent spouse. This is also fact sensitive, and information about the subsequent spouse’s support of the parent is likely relevant.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring how income is determined for child support purposes. Most cases are quite fact specific, and meeting with an attorney to address the specifics of your case is encouraged. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

  1. Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines 3(A)(1)

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