I receive a bonus from the military roughly every five years.
Will this income be included when calculating my child support payments? If so, how could they count an irregular bonus as part of my annual gross income?
Bonuses are typically included in calculating a child support obligation as they constitute gross income; however, in my state (Indiana) they are also treated as irregular income since the payment of bonuses may be infrequent or the amount of the bonus may vary.
Since irregular income is very fact-specific, its inclusion and how it will be factored into child support is at the court's discretion. Should the court determine it is appropriate to include irregular income, there are a number of methods that can be used to ensure the irregular income gets equitable treatment given that your bonus is periodic in nature.
One method outlined in the guidelines recommends the child support payor pay a fixed percentage of the bonus amount on a particular basis, such as bi-weekly, instead of including it in the calculation of the payor’s weekly gross income.
Another method outlined in the guidelines would have the child support payor pay a lump sum which was calculated by determining the basic child support obligation and dividing that number by the combined weekly adjusted gross income and then use this ratio to determine the percentage of the bonus to be paid as child support in a lump sum amount for that fixed period of time when the bonus was received.
The Indiana Child Support Guidelines uses the following example for the lump sum method:
"If the basic obligation was $110 and the combined income was $650, the ratio would be .169 ($110/$650). The order of the court would then require the obligor to make a lump sum payment of 16.9% of the obligor's irregular income received during the fixed period."
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Emily J. Barry is a Staff Attorney with the Indianapolis office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices family law exclusively with a focus on men’s divorce. She is licensed in the state of Indiana, and US District Courts of Northern and Southern Indiana. Ms. Barry is also a certified mediator in the state of Michigan. Ms. Barry received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Hispanic Studies cum laude from Connecticut College. Later, she received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law with a concentration in Alternative Dispute Resolution.