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Child Support: How Do You Calculate Income?

David B. Karp

I was asked the other day when computing child support, what should you be looking at?  Should you be looking at current income, last year’s income, year to date income, or some combination of all the above? What is the most accurate portrayal of a person’s income for purposes of calculating child support?

Where to Start When Calculating Income For Child Support

Here is a list of information that I would start with when calculating child support:

  • Tax returns: 2 years worth of tax returns including W2s and 1099s to see if the current income is in conformity with what the individual made in the previous tax year (or 2 years).
  • Current check stub: To show what the person is making now, both gross and net monthly income.
  • 12 weeks worth of check stubs: These check stub should also contain year to date gross and net monthly income.
    • A person’s income may fluctuate in the course of the year, and may include other compensation such as holiday pay, commissions, bonus checks, or other taxable perks that can be considered for support purposes. If you only look at one current check stub, it will not give you the whole picture of what their income is.

Once I have all of this information, using a year to date check stub, I will look at a calendar to determine how many weeks have gone by during the year and divide back to arrive at a weekly figure, and then multiply for 52 weeks to determine what their earnings show they are projected to make for the year, and then divide back by 12.

The formula looks something like this; 

Let’s say the person has made gross income of $52,000 thru 40 weeks this year;  $52,000 divided by 40 = $1,300 weekly x 52 weeks =$67,600, divided by 12 months = $5,634 gross monthly income.

I will then check those calculations over what the person made in the previous two tax years, as well as what they may be making over the recent and 12 week pay periods.

By going through this in depth analysis, you should have an accurate portrayal of the person’s gross and net monthly income for purposes of running either the straight child support guidelines or for using the shared placement formula for calculating child support.

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