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What counts as income in the child support formula?

Many Eagan residents probably realize that, as in other states, Minnesota courts will use a mathematical formula to determine the correct amount of child support it should order a parent to pay.

However, some might not realize that the fact there is a formula does not mean there will be no courtroom debate about child support, even if the judge has every intention of going by the formula and not deviating from it. The reason is that there are always questions about what number should be put in to the formula in the first place.

For instance, how much child support each parent will pay depends heavily on the parent's income. In the world of child support, "income" has a very broad definition, and it may even include items, like certain Social Security payments, that in many cases people do not think of as "income" in the common sense of the word. Basically, and with only few exceptions, any reliable source of wealth a parent can tap in to and use to provide for his or her children can be calculated in the court's child support figures.

While figuring a parent's income can be as simple as collecting recent paystubs and tax returns, in some cases, a parent has no regular paycheck, for example, when the parent is self-employed or works exclusively on commission. In such cases, the parent may argue that even one year's tax return might not paint an accurate picture of income since it was a remarkably good or bad year.

It is not always easy to determine what each parent's income ought to be for child support purposes, and this question may even call for some litigation or tense negotiating.

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