How does a court look at income for child support and spousal maintenance?

One common question asked during a divorce, paternity and custody case revolves around financial support a person must pay or receive as it relates to their family law case.  The first step to determine the couple’s income is to obtain monthly income paystubs and information for each parent.

Income can come from many documented sources other than wages or a salary.  It can be:

* Tips;

* Commissions;

* Gifts;

* Monthly or yearly bonuses;

* Workers’ Compensation benefits;

* Unemployment benefits;

* Annuity payments;

* Pension payments;

* Spousal maintenance from a prior court Order;

* Child support from a prior court Order;

* Social Security benefits; or

* Veteran’s benefits.

Overtime is generally not considered unless it is required by an employer and it was regularly worked during the relationship.  A court may want to examine the amount and type of overtime worked over the past two years to see how it should be treated in these two circumstances.

Unlike a person who works for an employer and receives a W-2, self-employed people earn an income that can be a challenge to trace.  Looking at three to four years of business and personal tax returns is a starting point.  It can come to a point where the business accountant needs to explain a business’ income and expenses using profit and loss statements to get a truer sense of what the self-employed person earns on a monthly or yearly basis

A person who is not currently working or has not worked for some time is considered being able to work in most situations.  For those who do not earn an income, they are given an “imputed” income, which is a realistic possible income at 150% of federal or state minimum wage, whichever is larger, because a zero income is not likely especially over time.

Do you have questions about how your income may affect child support and spousal maintenance?  Contact experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle for more information at (218) 722-2655.

Jessica Sterle

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