How Do Bonuses and Overtime Impact Child Support?

Child support payments are calculated based on the income of the parent responsible for paying it. When factoring in this payment calculation, many wonder how any overtime and bonuses earned figure into child support structures, if at all. For California residents, these payments count as income, and must therefore be factored, though some special circumstances may apply.

Earning Overtime and Bonuses

Many individuals work hard for and anticipate bonuses and overtime, gladly accepting any opportunity to earn the additional income. Additionally, performance bonuses and benefits may be periodically expected and anticipated, either given during the holidays or at random.

Depending on your job, these payments may be incremental bonuses or small payouts, or may represent a significant amount. For executives and other high-earning jobs, for example, these bonuses may be worth tens of thousands of dollars. The biggest determining factor for courts lies in the frequency and expectation of these bonuses, to ascertain whether they are guaranteed and, therefore, necessary to calculate into the parent’s overall income.

Factoring in Child Support

Although bonuses and overtime are not always guaranteed, they can be considered in child support calculations. Different states have different laws regarding bonuses and overtime, but as a rule of thumb, the larger the bonus, the more likely it will impact your child support payment. For example, California requires that bonuses and overtime be factored in to the child support.

As previously stated, courts will determine whether the overtime or bonuses received are reasonably expected components of the parent’s income. In some cases, courts may recognize that the income of the child support paying parent fluctuates from time to time, and choose to use their discretion in calculating child support payments without depending on this income. For example, if the bonuses vary or are not decided by the individual’s performance, this could be one exception to the rule. While this is a possibility, it is not an obligation of the court to discern. Each court maintains its own discretion under such circumstances.

The court may consider whether your overtime is regular, guaranteed, or consistent, but even if it is not, it could still be factored into your child support. A common approach in factoring this type of income is to average the bonus and overtime you earned over the years. This, however, is not a requirement by law.

If the courts choose to recognize that bonuses and overtime fluctuate overtime, determining the income as not guaranteed, they may modify a child support payment. If the individual’s financial circumstances change, one way or the other, the courts may choose to reassess payment structures again.

If an individual feels that their bonuses and overtime should not be factored into child support, evidence must be presented to the court. The best way to ensure a favorable ruling is by hiring professional help. If you are facing a child support payment calculation you believe is unfair, or if your job situation has recently changed, and you are looking at having your child support payments reevaluated, contact a member of our firm today.