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Although the Nebraska courts developed and provide a Basic Net Income and Support Calculation Worksheet, before the worksheet can be completed, the parents’ combined net income must be determined.
But what makes up net income for child support calculations?
First, identify the gross monthly income and subtract deductions to determine the net income. Examples of deductions include taxes, FICA, health insurance, retirement, and previously ordered child support.
In Noonan v. Noonan, the Nebraska Supreme Court held if there is evidence that shows someone actually earns or can expect to receive certain income on a regular basis, then it is appropriate to apply that income to calculate child support. 261 Neb. 552, 560, 624 N.W.2d 314, 322 (2001).
This means that in considering child support, your income includes yearly salary, overtime, tips, bonuses, commission, or unemployment benefits. Child and spousal support payments are excluded, along with money from means-tested public assistance programs.
Other types of income you may not immediately consider “income” includes veterans’ benefits, pension or retirement payments, rental income, social security benefits, trust income, or monetary gits received on a routine and consistent basis. On top of this, the court may include in-kind benefits, which are any non-cash benefit of monetary value that your employer provides you. In-kind items are benefits such as home office payments, car allowances, and even regular employer-funded mileage reimbursements.
Income comes in all shapes and forms and determining how best to apply the worksheet can be tricky. Making sure that it reflects the most accurate income of both parents is very important and can significantly impact the amount of child support that may be owed.
In addition, if a parent tries to avoid paying child support by refusing to work (or purposely working for less income), the court can impute income, or come up with an amount based on a person’s historic earning capacity, applying factors like employment history, education, and training.
If you have questions on child support or child custody, or just want to speak with the family law attorneys at Berkshire & Burmeister, please contact us today!