Parents have a joint responsibility to provide financially for their children, regardless of whether they are together, separated, or divorced. When a marriage ends, the court will order child support to provide for the children’s needs and protect them from any major change in lifestyle due to the divorce.
When determining how much child support a parent will have to pay, Utah courts take a number of factors into account. One is the gross monthly income of each parent.
What is Gross Income?
Simply defined, gross income is the amount you make before taxes. The common assumption is that it applies solely to your salary, but for the purposes of calculating child support, courts go beyond your primary paycheck and look at all the ways that you earn money. Below is a list of five key criteria used to determine your gross monthly income and, consequently, how much you have to pay toward the support of your children.
Pay Stubs or Employer Statements
For those who hold salaried or hourly jobs, income consists of the amount you make in an average 40-hour work week. If, however, you consistently worked overtime and received commissions and bonuses, the court will probably take this amount into consideration when deciding how much child support you should pay or receive. Income will be verified via pay stubs, employer statements, or similar documentation.
Revenue and Expense Statements
If you own a business or are self-employed and don’t receive a regular paycheck as such, the court will calculate your gross income by subtracting reasonable and necessary operating expenses from your gross receipts. Bear in mind, however, that tax deductions are treated the same way as expenses when calculating child support, as they are not critical to business operation.
Because the definition of income goes beyond salary alone, courts ask for tax returns to see how much money you make from various sources. These sources include but are not limited to salaries, wages, pensions, trust income, spousal support from an earlier marriage, rental income, disability or retirement benefits, and even cash gifts or prizes.
Imputed income refers to money you have the ability to earn, but don’t. It is most commonly applied when a parent is capable of working full-time but simply chooses not to. If the court suspects that you are staying unemployed to avoid paying child support, it will impute a wage and use that amount to calculate how much you must pay.
If you have questions about child support calculation in Utah or need assistance with a support modification when your gross monthly income changes, contact us at Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We have years of experience in helping to create support payment schedules that meet the needs and circumstances of everyone involved.