How Child Support Is Determined With a Fluctuating Income
Feb. 24, 2023
Child support orders and child custody agreements are nearly always contentious matters between parents. Because one is heavily linked to the other, time spent with the child becomes a basis for financial support. It can seem ironic that the parent who gets to spend less time with the child ends up literally paying for it.
Although Kansas courts follow a basic formula when awarding child support, they also consider multiple factors that make child support orders unique to each case. Determining child support starts with the income earned by each parent, but some parents don’t earn the same amount of money every pay period or every year. In those cases, the court must take income fluctuations into account when ordering child support.
If you are facing a child support issue and wonder how a fluctuating income will affect it, you should turn to the experienced advice offered by the family law attorney at Jeffers Law Office. The firm has been helping parents in Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe, Leawood, Shawnee, Prairie Village, and throughout Johnson County, Kansas, for more than 40 years.
What Are the Factors When Calculating Child Support?
There are two primary considerations in the court’s decisions regarding child support: parental income and the child’s needs. The court begins the child support calculation by using a standard form, and at the top of that form is each parent’s gross income. This is followed by adjustments to gross income for each parent, such as child support paid for other kids and spousal support made or received.
Once each parent’s adjusted income is calculated, they are added together, and then each parent’s percentage of the total is determined. Other considerations include the number and ages of children, health and dental insurance premiums, childcare costs related to employment, state and federal income tax burdens, a parent’s costs for visitation if they live far away, and any special needs of the child.
What Circumstances May Cause Income to Fluctuate?
Income includes income from self-employment, rents, salaries, commissions, bonuses, royalties, investment dividends, severance pay, military pensions, Social Security benefits, tips, and wages, including overtime pay.
Bonuses and commissions are performance-based, so they may change from year to year. A parent may work overtime hours or take a second job to increase their income. Rents and dividends can fluctuate as can the income earned by someone who is self-employed.
Income will also fluctuate after divorce because parents will have additional expenses now that they are living separately. However, what the court is seeking is fairness and stability for the child. Each parent is financially responsible for their children, and as such, the children should benefit when a parent earns more income than usual but not be penalized when the parent does not.
How Is Fluctuating Income Calculated for Child Support in Kansas?
As you can see, many income line items can shift from time to time, which is why the court looks at a three-year snapshot to determine each parent’s adjusted income. When a parent’s income fluctuates, the court will average it to calculate the parent’s adjusted income.
At the same time, the court will not allow someone to willfully fluctuate their income, for example, by refusing to work overtime after divorce or by becoming voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In those cases, the court will use an imputed income amount. That is the amount the parent should be earning rather than what they may be earning at the time child support is being calculated.
Work With an Experienced Attorney
If your income fluctuates or if your child’s other parent’s does, you should work with an experienced child support attorney to help ensure that fluctuating income does not penalize you or your child.
How is child support calculated in Kansas? It is calculated very carefully, but all the pieces need to be there so the court can do its job to protect your child. If you are facing a child support issue in Overland Park, Kansas, or anywhere in Johnson County, and fluctuating income is an issue, contact Jeffers Law Office today.
It is never too early to start calculating the child support you should receive or pay. Call Jeffers Law Office now.