What is considered income when it comes to child support in California?


When it comes to figuring out how child support is calculated, California looks closely at the income of both parents. But what exactly does “income” mean in this context? It’s not just about what you earn from your job. Let’s break it down in a way that’s easy to understand.

Income Sources: A Broad View

In California, income can come from almost anywhere. Whether it’s your salary, the rent you receive from a property you own, or dividends from investments, all of it counts when calculating child support. Here’s a quick look at what may be included:

  • Wages, bonuses, and salaries
  • Commissions and royalties
  • Business income (after expenses)
  • Rents and dividends
  • Pensions and interest
  • Benefits like workers’ compensation, unemployment, disability, and social security

Beyond the Paycheck: Other Considerations

When it comes to child support, what you make from your job is a big part of the picture, but it’s not the whole picture. California courts know that a parent’s financial responsibility for their children isn’t just about today’s paycheck; it’s also about what they have the ability to earn. This is where the term ‘earning capacity’ comes into play.

Earning capacity is what you could realistically make given your situation. The court looks at many things to figure this out:

  • Work Experience and Skills: What jobs have you done before? What special skills do you have?
  • Education: Did you finish high school, college, or vocational training?
  • Health: Are you physically and mentally able to work?
  • Age: Sometimes, how old you are can affect what jobs you can get.
  • Job Market: What kinds of jobs are available where you live?
  • Caring Responsibilities: The time you spend looking after your children is also considered.

The court takes all this into account to ensure that child support payments are fair and reflect what each parent can contribute. They don’t want to set payments too high for one parent to handle or too low to help with the children’s needs.

But remember, the court doesn’t use this to punish a parent who isn’t working. For example, if a parent is in jail or can’t work because of a disability, this won’t be held against them when setting child support.

In short, child support is more than just a number. It’s a reflection of what’s possible, fair, and right for the children involved. The Orange County divorce attorneys at Irwin & Irwin, understand the nuances of these laws and are ready to help ensure that your child support arrangement is just and appropriate for your circumstances. If you’re facing challenges with child support, let’s talk. We can provide the guidance you need and help find a solution that works for everyone, especially the children.

What Doesn’t Count?

When the courts in California calculate child support, they are very specific about what does not count as income. This is just as important as knowing what counts because it ensures that support amounts are set in a fair manner.

Here’s a closer look at what is left out of the income calculation:

  • Child Support Payments: If you’re already receiving child support for a child from another relationship, that money is exclusively for that child’s needs and is not included in your income.
  • Need-Based Public Assistance: Money received from programs like food stamps, housing assistance, or other welfare programs is not counted. These funds are aimed at meeting basic needs and are not seen as income for child support purposes.
  • Other Children’s Needs: If you have children with someone else and you’re supporting them, those expenses are considered in your favor. You won’t be penalized for fulfilling your obligations to them.

It’s important to note that these rules are in place to protect the well-being of all children involved. By not including certain types of income, the law aims to ensure that child support orders are balanced and just.

Take Action for Fair Child Support

If you’re navigating the complexities of child support and need clarity on what counts as income, Irwin & Irwin is here to help. We understand that every family’s situation is unique, and we’re committed to providing personalized guidance to meet your specific needs. Don’t let uncertainty about child support laws add stress to your life. Reach out to us for compassionate legal assistance. Contact Irwin & Irwin today for a consultation, and take the first step towards peace of mind for you and your children’s future.

Related Article: When Does Child Support Terminate for an Adult Dependent Child?