In Georgia, the first step in determining a child support obligation is to “determine the monthly gross income of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent.” OCGA §19-6-15(b)(1). While this sounds fairly straightforward, calculating a parent’s gross income may be a complicated process as there are several categories of “income” that are included:
1. Attributable income – Includes salaries; commissions, fees and tips; income from self-employment; bonuses; overtime payments; severance pay; recurring income from pensions or retirement plans; interest income; dividend income; trust income; income from annuities; capital gains; disability or retirement benefits from SSA; workers’ compensation benefits; judgments recovered from civil actions; gifts of cash, or which can be converted to cash; prizes; lottery winnings; alimony or maintenance from other parties; assets used for the support of the family. OCGA §19-6-15(f)(1)(A).
2. Self-employment income – Refers to “income from, but not limited to, business operations, work as an independent contractor or consultant, sales of goods or services, and rental properties, less ordinary and reasonable expenses necessary to produce such income. Income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a partnership, limited liability company, or closely held corporation is defined as gross receipts minus ordinary and reasonable expenses required for self-employment or business operations.” OCGA §19-6-15(f)(1)(B).
3. Fringe benefits – Refers to income or “in kind” remuneration received by a parent in the course of employment that significantly reduce that parent’s personal living expenses. OCGA §19-6-15(f)(1)(C). Examples include a company car or housing.
4. Variable income – Includes commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, dividends, etc. are “averaged…over a reasonable period of time” and added to a parent’s salary to determine gross income. OCGA §19-6-15(f)(1)(D).
5. Military compensation and allowances – Includes base pay, drill pay, basic allowances for subsistence, whether paid directly or received in kind, and basic allowance for housing, whether paid directly or received in kind. OCGA §19-6-15(f)(1)(E).
If you or your spouse has a gross income that includes several of these categories, you will be best served to have an experienced family attorney help you with your child support calculation. This will ensure that you and your spouse are properly reporting your incomes, and that the proper amount of support is received for the children.