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What Is Considered “Income” When Calculating Child Support? 

Law Office of Ivy L. Graham Feb. 7, 2024

Broken heart, Family figures and Child Support wordThe term 'income' can be interpreted broadly when calculating child support. It isn't just your wages or salary. Your "gross income" is taken into consideration, which means courts look at your comprehensive earnings when calculating and approving your child support arrangement.  

Beyond your salary and regular wages, your gross income includes (but is not limited to):  

  • Bonuses. 

  • Income from trusts or inheritance. 

  • Self-employment income and commissions. 

  • Severance pay. 

  • Educational grants. 

  • Military pensions. 

  • Retirement benefits. 

  • Benefits received in place of earned income. Examples: workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, strike pay, and Social Security insurance benefits. 

  • Gifts and prizes, including lottery and gambling winnings.  

  • Rental income. 

  • Capital gains.  

It's important to also understand that the court looks at both parents' incomes, not just the paying parent. This means if you're the parent receiving support, your income will also be taken into account when determining child support.

Do you have concerns about what income is being considered for your child support calculation? Don't hesitate to get personalized advice from your local attorney. If you're in or near Denham Springs, Louisiana, our firm is here to help. Call the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham to schedule an initial consultation today. 

How Child Support Is Calculated in Louisiana

At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we're often asked about child support and how it's calculated in Louisiana. It's a complex process that takes into account several factors, including both parents' income. To help you understand better, we're breaking down the key aspects of child support calculation and what constitutes as 'income' in this context. 

In Louisiana, child support obligations are determined using the "income shares model. " This model considers how much financial support a child would receive if their parents were living together. This support is then divided between the parents based on their respective incomes, ensuring both parents contribute financially to their child's needs. 

How Both Parents' Incomes Factor In 

Under Louisiana law, both parents are required to financially support their child until they reach 18 years old. This obligation may continue if the child is a full-time student in secondary school or equivalent, hasn't reached 19, and is dependent upon either parent. 

The responsibility of each parent is determined by their income. If one parent makes more than the other, they'll be responsible for a larger portion of the child support obligation. Conversely, if a parent earns less, their share of the child support will be less. 

Considerations for Joint Custody

Louisiana law presumes that joint custody is in the child's best interests. However, the state's child support guidelines don't make many allowances for joint custody situations. The court may consider the time spent by the child with the noncustodial parent as a basis for adjusting the amount of child support to be paid during that time. The court may also include the continuing expenses of the custodial parent in these calculations. 

The Ins & Outs of Imputed Income

Imputed income refers to the income that isn't actually earned by a parent but is attributed to them for the purpose of calculating child support. It's a concept used when a court believes a parent is capable of earning more than they currently do or if they're deliberately suppressing their income to avoid higher child support payments. 

For example, if a parent is unemployed or underemployed by choice and not due to circumstances beyond their control, the court may decide to impute income based on what that parent could potentially earn given their skills, qualifications, and job market conditions. 

The court looks at several factors when considering whether to impute income. These might include:  

  • the parent's previous earnings 

  • employment history 

  • education 

  • health 

  • the job market conditions in their area 

If imputed income is applied, it essentially means the court calculates child support based on what the parent should be earning, rather than what they're actually earning. This helps ensure that the child receives fair financial support from both parents. 

However, it's important to note that imputation of income isn't automatic. It's up to the discretion of the court and typically requires evidence suggesting that the parent is capable of earning more. 

Need Legal Help? Don't Hesitate to Reach Out

Understanding child support calculations can be challenging, especially when there have been some major life changes since the child support order was last revised. It's always a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney if you have any questions or concerns about your child support obligations. 

If you have any questions or need legal assistance regarding child support in Louisiana, don't hesitate to contact us. Here at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we're dedicated to providing guidance and support to our clients. We understand how complex these matters can be, and our experienced attorney, Ivy Graham, is here to help you navigate this process and work towards the best possible outcome for your family.