How is Income Calculated for Child Support Purposes?
A child support order is synonymous with divorce or separation cases, where the court decides on the amount and frequency of the payment that would be made from one parent to the other for supporting the child, who should be a minor. In most cases, the parent making the child support payment is the non-custodial parent while the parent that receives it is the custodial parent. The primary purpose of a child support order is to ensure both parents contribute financially to the upbringing of the child.
The determination of the child support payment is a primary function of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines were created with the idea that parents with a certain amount of income will spend x number of dollars on their child(ren). The legislature does not care that the parents are now spending twice as much on their household expenses, because when parties separate, they double their expenses.
The legislature in creating the guidelines only care at how much was being spent on the child(ren) at a certain level of income, and that amount should stay the same regardless of the new circumstances. This has subsequently made the task of estimating the potential amount of child support to be made by the non-custodial parent easy for family lawyers as there are mathematical formulas that can be easily used in the calculation.
So how is the income calculated for child support purposes? To determine how the income is derived, one needs to consider the revenues that are considered in the formula. The gross incomes of the parents are taken into consideration when calculating child support. The gross incomes plus additional adjustments which may be made for child support already being paid for other children, health insurance premium for the child(ren), daycare and a few other expenses create the amount of child support that is to be paid.
It is however usually required that parents present proofs of their incomes which could include pay statement, tax returns, and even profit or loss statements for sole proprietorships, to avoid the hiding of revenue.
While the incomes of the parents are critical in the calculation of child support, other factors that are also considered include the number of children, special educational or medical expenses, and the duration the child spends with each parent.