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What is considered gross income for child support purposes?

Washington has a statutory child support schedule that will be applied when determining how much child support will be owed. One important part of this calculation is determining each parent's gross monthly income.

Per statute, a parent's wages or salary will be considered income. However, commissions, bonuses and deferred compensation are also considered income. With certain exceptions, overtime is also considered income. If a parent has contract-related benefits, dividends or interest, these items will also be included as income. If a parent works a second job, with some exceptions, wages earned there are considered income. Any income a parent generates from trusts, along with annuities, capital gains and pension retirement benefits are also counted as income.

If a parent receives unemployment benefits, severance pay or workers' compensation, this is counted as income, along with income for the purposes of child support and maintenance actually received. Social Security benefits are considered income, as are disability insurance benefits. Finally, any income received from joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, the proprietorship of a business, royalties, rent or self-employment will be counted.

That being said, there are certain sources of income that are not included as gross income. These include the income that a new spouse, a domestic partner or other adults in the household bring in. Child support payments a parent receives from another relationship are not counted, as are prizes and gifts.

If a parent receives Supplemental Security Income, food stamps or temporary assistance for needy families, this will not be counted as gross income. Blind or disabled assistance benefits are also not included as gross income, as are pregnant woman assistance benefits.

Finally, overtime payments or income from a second job that goes beyond 40-hours weekly on average over a one-year period that is worked to either provide for a current family's needs, to retire child support debt or past relationship debt will not be counted if the court determines will end once these debts are paid off.

As you can see, calculating the parents' income for child support purposes is not necessarily as simple as looking at the parent's paycheck to see what they earned during that pay period. Therefore, parents in Washington who want more information about how child support is calculated in the state should seek the help they need to have their questions answered.

Source: Wa.gov, "RCW 26.19.071," accessed on Oct. 3, 2016

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