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How do you calculate child support on an irregular income?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Child Support

If you have an irregular income and need to pay child support, it can be tough to figure out exactly how much you should pay. Usually, courts look at your overall income as well as weekly or monthly incomes to calculate your monthly child support payment. However, for parents who have irregular incomes, that arrangement can make child support calculations challenging.

It’s important that any child support paid is based on dependable income. For example, if you regularly earn $1,000 monthly from one consistent source, this $1,000 should be included in the calculation. Other income that isn’t regular may not be able to be included, since including it could place a hardship on the parent. For instance, if it’s overtime income, they may not have it in the future and should, potentially, not have it included in the calculation to determine support.

If I make $1,000 a week, how much child support do I pay?

The guidelines for child support suggest that the noncustodial parent should pay 20% of their net income for one child to the custodial parent. If the parent’s net income varies wildly, it can be difficult to figure out what they should pay. Remember, net income is income from all resources after taxes and health insurance and other medical support for the child have been deducted.

According to the Attorney General of Texas, in 2023, if you paid $500 monthly for health insurance for your children, and $10 monthly for dental and paid $15 monthly for union dues, you might pay as little as $60 for your monthly child support obligation.

One option you may have is to determine your average income to pay an annual support amount. You may negotiate monthly sums based on the previous year’s net income and revisit it annually to make adjustments, too. For instance, if you pay support on an expected $120,000 of income and end up earning $150,000, you could settle the additional 20% of $30,000 in earnings expected for a single child at the end of the year. This calculation, of course, is also dependent on the number of children you’re paying child support for.  If you earn less than expected, you could seek a modification to reduce what you pay.

Remember that a child support order can vary greatly, depending on a wide array of factors such as the number of children, whether they need medical support or have special needs, whether you are the custodial parent or not, etc.

There are ways to adapt a child support plan for parents with irregular incomes. What may work for your situation won’t necessarily be the plan that others would use. It’s worth looking at legal options that may be allowed, since this is not an uncommon problem for freelancers, independent contractors and others who work on a project-by-project basis.