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"Income" for Purposes of Calculating Support

Child support and initial spousal support is calculated via a computer program established by our State Legislature. The main factors, along with other miscellaneous ones, are the income of the respective parents and the timeshare between them with the child. Family Code Section 4058 defines what "annual gross income" is. This translates to a monthly sum which is "plugged in" to the calculation. Standard income consists of salaries, commissions, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pension income, interest of all kinds, worker's compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, disability, social security benefits and spousal support actually received from another party. Annual gross income does not include any income received from child support payments from another party or public assistance. The child support is considered the income and support of that child, not the income of the parent.

Additionally, the court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of that parent's actual income if it is consistent with the best interest of the child. That means that if the court deems a person having the "ability to earn," i.e. skills and a job opportunity available, that parent will be deemed to have income consistent with those skills and opportunities.

Additional items that are given as deductions in the computation are mandatory union dues and retirement benefits, deductions for health insurance premiums and child or spousal support actually being paid. Also deductible are certain job related expenses and a hardship deduction may be granted for support of another child or children.

There may also be "add-ons" to child support ordered as follows:

  1. Child care costs related to employment or to reasonable and necessary education or training for employment
  2. Reasonable uninsured healthcare costs for the children
  3. Or the court may order costs related to the education or special needs of the children or travel expenses. Those are in the discretion of the court
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