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Custody & Support Modifications

What Counts as Income for Child Support Purposes?

Most people in Los Angeles probably equate their income with salaries of themselves and their spouses or significant others. However, there are many people who get income in a variety of other ways, such as from investments, retirement plans and profit from one's own business.

In particular, people who have a high net worth also frequently draw income from a variety of sources. Usually, these people can also, in emergencies, tap into the help of family or friends for additional financial support. This fact can make calculating child support challenging.

Under California law, income for child support purposes includes just about every dollar a person makes, as well as services and other property that person might receive on a regular basis.

In many cases, income for child support purposes can even exceed the income one must report on his or her taxes. For instance, when it comes to income from one's own business, a judge might disallow some business expenses, even if those expenses were successfully and legally claimed on one's tax returns.

Additionally, California courts are allowed to impute income to parents who have the potential to make more money but who have instead voluntarily taken a lower paying job or no job at all. An extreme example of this would be a qualified and employable surgeon who decides to teach high school biology instead.

In such a case, a judge may assume that the surgeon is making a surgeon's salary for child support purposes, even if he is not actually doing so.

The point is that when trying to modify child support, nailing down the other parent's income is not always as simple as just asking to see a paystub or even a tax return. Oftentimes, one will need expert legal assistance in order to get an accurate income calculation and, thus, an adequate child support order.