If you’re going through a divorce or are contemplating one, you may be wondering how the judge determines what will be paid in child support. Child support payments are determined by the amount of monthly gross (before taxes) income each parent brings in. It all starts with Florida Statute 61.30, which defines what qualifies as “income.”
As a Jacksonville custody attorney, we’re often put in the position of having to break down the statute and explain to our clients what the statute means in everyday language.
Here we’ll take a look at the State’s definition of income and explain what that means for parents.
What Qualifies as Gross Income in the State of Florida
The State of Florida defines gross income as the following:
- Salary or wages. This is the most easily understood type of income. It is the amount of money an employee earns from their employer.
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments. Since these monies are not usually paid out monthly or may change from month-to-month, it is a good idea to have at least three years of tax returns and a year or two of any other documents relating to these other types of payments. These payments, sometimes after creating a yearly average, will be added to the parents’ regular salary, if they have one, and then divided by 12 to arrive at a gross monthly income amount.
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross income minus the expenses that are required to run the business such as rent, utilities, etc. In essence, business income is the amount of “take home pay” a self-employed individual receives.
- Disability, Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, Reemployment and Unemployment benefits. Since these benefits are designed to support the individual and his or her family, they are considered income for child support purposes.
- Pension, retirement, or annuity payments. Like disability benefits and the other benefits outlined in number four, these regular payments are also considered income and will be considered when calculating child support.
- Spousal support or alimony. Income received from a previous marriage or court ordered income will be included in a parent’s gross income calculation.
- Interest and dividends. If paid annually, these amounts will be divided by 12 to arrive at a monthly amount and factored in to what a parent’s monthly gross income is.
- Rental income. Similar to #3 above, the amount left over after paying necessary expenses (mortgage, insurance, property taxes, etc.) will be factored in when determining a parent’s monthly gross income.
- Income from royalties, trusts, or estates. If a parent receives any money from these types of situations, the money paid to the parent will count as income. If money is paid to the parent annually, the amount will be divided by 12 to determine a monthly income amount.
- Reimbursed expenses or in-kind payments. This would include any housing or vehicle allowance or any other type of expense paid on a parent’s behalf or money given back to a parent which results in reducing that parent’s living expenses.
- Property gains. Any money received, more than once, by a parent due to the increased value of any type of property is considered part of the parent’s gross income for child support purposes.
All of the above items are included as gross income but the list is not all-inclusive. Ultimately, the judge has final say over what will be included in the gross monthly income calculation. If you have questions about gross income or child support, consult with a Jacksonville divorce lawyer or Jacksonville custody attorney to make sure you and your spouse have accurately reported all of your income sources and have calculated child support correctly.