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Calculating Net Income For Support Purposes

The percentage guidelines are applied to the supporting parent's net income. The starting figure for net income is the total income from all sources and is interpreted broadly. For example, a worker's compensation award has been held to constitute income (In re Marriage of Dodds, 222 Ill. App. 3d 99). Additionally, pension benefits, when paid, are considered income for purposes of calculating support (In re Marriage of Klomps, 286 Ill. App. 3d 710). In re Marriage of Baylor, 324 Ill. App. 3d 213, mother's military allowance for off-base housing and other living expenses should have been included in net income.
Some courts have made exceptions from the statutory inclusion of "all income from all sources". In re Marriage of Feesen, 275 Ill. App. 3d 97, the court properly refused to consider passive income reported on Husband's income tax returns because the testimony proved that Husband did not receive the income. The income was retained by his company and simply was an effort to reduce the company's debt. With regard to a personal injury settlement, the court found that only the portion of the recovery that replaced past and future lost income could be considered (Villanueva v. O'Gara, 282 Ill. App. 3d 147).
Several expenditures are subtracted from total income to derive the net income. The following are said expenditures:
1) Federal Tax. The tax must be at the properly calculated level. If a non-custodial parent over withholds and overpays his or her income tax, the overpayment should be added back for the purpose of determining net income.
2) State Tax.
3) Social Security.
4) Mandatory retirement contributions.
5) Union dues.
6) Dependent and individual health insurance.
7) Prior obligations of support or maintenance with a court order.
8) Expenditures for repayment of debts incurred for the production of income, certain medical expenses and certain expenditures for the benefit of the child or other parent, exclusive of gifts.
Determining net income should not be a highly contested issue. The calculation is truly mechanical with the exception of the court's discretion on whether or not an expense is "reasonable and necessary". In some cases, a party will have expenses being deducted from pay which are not necessary in an effort to reduce the net income. For example, the person may have an auto payment being deducted from pay. In that case, the payment needs to be added back into the calculation for net income. In other cases, there may be an unnecessary deduction for installment purchases that someone permits to be deducted from the paycheck. As above, that payment must be added back for proper calculation purposes.
If the parties are adequately represented by counsel, many of the issues regarding net income will become simplified. Once a party is made aware of the guidelines and the court's likely ruling, an agreement should be easily obtainable.
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