Help Getting Child Support

Often, divorcing parents are able to arrive at an agreement, with the guidance of their attorneys, on how much child support the parent with

What Is Considered "Gross Income?"

"Gross income" includes salary from all jobs and contractual agreements as well as overtime pay, tips and bonuses. Deferred compensation, profit sharing, bonuses and commissions earned are included.

Interest and investment income and dividends are included in gross income as well. So is income from annuities and capital gains. Rent, royalties and pension income are considered. If the spouse seeking child support is already receiving alimony from another spouse, that is considered income.

A variety of benefits are considered part of gross income. These include Social Security benefits, military and veterans' benefits.

Not all income is in the form of money. For example, if a parent gets free use of a company car or a stipend for living expenses, that is considered.

"Unrealized Income" May Be Considered

Unrealized income is defined differently by states for child support purposes. It may include unrealized gains from stock options, earned interest on individual retirement accounts and retained earnings of a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.

Of course, people's income can change annually or even more often. Further, if the parent receiving child support remarries or begins cohabitating with someone else, that person's income is considered as well. It's essential to report all of this information accurately to the court at the beginning of the process and when it changes, whether you are seeking child support or being asked to pay it. If you are the payer, you can and should seek changes if you believe that your ex's financial circumstances warrant it. Your family law attorney can provide guidance on your state's laws and help work to protect your and your children's interests.