PROPER CALCULATION OF GROSS INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT
Income for child support purposes starts with a party's gross income. If you are a w-2 wage earner, this is relatively straight forward. If you are paid a basic hourly rate you simply multiply your hourly rate of pay by 2,080 hours per year, divided by 12 months to obtain your monthly gross income.
If you are only working part-time, because that is all your employer offers, income may be imputed to you depending on the circumstances. In addition to your regular pay, is any overtime pay and benefits, such as vacation pay. For calculating you total gross income, particularly at this time of year, it may be easier to use your total gross pay on your pay stub and divide by 12 for the number of months, or the number of weeks your year to date gross pay covers, then divide by the number of weeks, multiply that number by 52 and then again divide by 12.
Many parties complain that their overtime pay is not guaranteed, however overtime pay is certainly part of one's gross income and if you do not want the Judge or Magistrate making this calculation for you, you should make it part of your calculation. The best way is to get an average over a long enough period of time that makes sense. If you can get an average that covers 3 months, great, if you can get and average for 6 months or a year, even better. When the court looks at overtime, on an annual basis, it is tough to argue that once that number is divided by 12, it is not a rather accurate reflection of the amount of overtime regularly worked monthly. The longer the period of time that can be used, the more accurate the average will be, even though it may not accurately reflect a particular month.
Lastly, another common mistake parties typically make when calculating gross income (before tax income) is that since the Maryland Child Support Guidelines use monthly amount, that has to be accounted for accurately. Put another way, if you get paid weekly, your monthly amount is calculated by multiplying your income by 4.3 and not just by 4. Another way to calculate your monthly amount is to multiply your weekly amount by 52 then divide by 12. If you get paid bi-weekly, you would need to multiply your gross pay by 26 then divide by 12. Or if you get paid two times per month, on the 1st of the month and the 15th, then you would multiply your gross pay by 24 and then divide by 12.
For more information on what constitutes income for child support purposes, consult Family Law § 12-201.