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Calculating Child Support: Do My Bonuses Count as Income?

Marcellino & Tyson
Marcellino & Tyson August 1st, 2022

mother and child signing child support papers charlotte nc

So, it looks like you’re going to be on the hook for child support. According to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, your obligation is based on your gross income (income without deductions). And yes, that includes your bonuses you receive from your employer. A court must count your bonuses as income if it finds you are likely to continue to receive those bonuses in the future. Hinshaw v. Kuntz, 760 S.E.2d 296, 300 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014).

This is true even if your bonus fluctuates from year to year. The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that when a parent receives and expects to receive annual bonuses of differing amounts, the court is required to include it in calculating the parent’s base income and the overall child support award. See id; see also Waller v. Waller, 202 S.E.2d 791, 793 (N.C. Ct. App. 1974).

But what if your bonus is irregular or a one-time thing? Since there is no guarantee of you receiving a bonus, it should automatically be separated from your regular, ongoing income, right? Wrong. There is nothing in the Guidelines that states a court must separate irregular, non-recurring income from its child support calculation. However, nowhere in the Guidelines does it suggest that a court is required to include non-recurring income in its child support calculation either. Ludlam v. Miller, 739 S.E.2d 555, 561 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013). The Guidelines only state that “[w]hen income is received on an irregular, non-recurring, or one-time basis, the court may average or prorate the income over a specified period of time or require an obligor to pay as child support a percentage of his or her non-recurring income that is equivalent to the percentage of his or her recurring income paid for child support” (emphasis added). Basically, this all means that courts have a lot of discretion when it comes to awarding child support, and it is determined in light of the specific circumstances of your case.

An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate all the ins and outs of Child Support and develop a solution that is best for you. At Marcellino & Tyson, PLLC, we know each situation is different, and we frame your case to achieve the best results for your situation. Contact us at (704) 919-1519 for a consultation to discuss your options.