Family Law: Calculating Income for Support in Washington
In order to calculate child support or spousal maintenance, it is important to have accurate income information of the spouses. The Washington legislature has defined what is and what is not income for child support calculations in RCW 26.19.071, as follows:
(1) Consideration of all income. All income and resources of each parent’s household shall be disclosed and considered by the court when the court determines the child support obligation of each parent. Only the income of the parents of the children whose support is at issue shall be calculated for purposes of calculating the basic support obligation. Income and resources of any other person shall not be included in calculating the basic support obligation.
(2) Verification of income. Tax returns for the preceding two years and current paystubs shall be provided to verify income and deductions. Other sufficient verification shall be required for income and deductions which do not appear on tax returns or paystubs.
(3) Income sources included in gross monthly income. Except as specifically excluded in subsection (4) of this section, monthly gross income shall include income from any source, including:
(d) Deferred compensation;
(e) Overtime, except as excluded for income in subsection (4)(h) of this section;
(f) Contract-related benefits;
(g) Income from second jobs, except as excluded for income in subsection (4)(h) of this section;
(j) Trust income;
(k) Severance pay;
(m) Capital gains;
(n) Pension retirement benefits;
(o) Workers’ compensation;
(p) Unemployment benefits;
(q) Maintenance actually received;
(s) Social security benefits;
(t) Disability insurance benefits; and
(u) Income from self-employment, rent, royalties, contracts, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation.
(4) Income sources excluded from gross monthly income. The following income and resources shall be disclosed but shall not be included in gross income:
(a) Income of a new spouse or new domestic partner or income of other adults in the household;
(b) Child support received from other relationships;
(c) Gifts and prizes;
(d) Temporary assistance for needy families;
(e) Supplemental security income;
(f) Disability lifeline benefits;
(g) Food stamps; and
(h) Overtime or income from second jobs beyond forty hours per week averaged over a twelve-month period worked to provide for a current family’s needs, to retire past relationship debts, or to retire child support debt, when the court finds the income will cease when the party has paid off his or her debts.
Receipt of income and resources from temporary assistance for needy families, supplemental security income, disability lifeline benefits, and food stamps shall not be a reason to deviate from the standard calculation.
(5) Determination of net income. The following expenses shall be disclosed and deducted from gross monthly income to calculate net monthly income:
(a) Federal and state income taxes;
(b) Federal insurance contributions act deductions;
(c) Mandatory pension plan payments;
(d) Mandatory union or professional dues;
(e) State industrial insurance premiums;
(f) Court-ordered maintenance to the extent actually paid;
(g) Up to five thousand dollars per year in voluntary retirement contributions actually made if the contributions show a pattern of contributions during the one-year period preceding the action establishing the child support order unless there is a determination that the contributions were made for the purpose of reducing child support; and
(h) Normal business expenses and self-employment taxes for self-employed persons. Justification shall be required for any business expense deduction about which there is disagreement.
Items deducted from gross income under this subsection shall not be a reason to deviate from the standard calculation.
(6) Imputation of income. The court shall impute income to a parent when the parent is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed. The court shall determine whether the parent is voluntarily underemployed or voluntarily unemployed based upon that parent’s work history, education, health, and age, or any other relevant factors. A court shall not impute income to a parent who is gainfully employed on a full-time basis, unless the court finds that the parent is voluntarily underemployed and finds that the parent is purposely underemployed to reduce the parent’s child support obligation. Income shall not be imputed for an unemployable parent. Income shall not be imputed to a parent to the extent the parent is unemployed or significantly underemployed due to the parent’s efforts to comply with court-ordered reunification efforts under chapter 13.34 RCW or under a voluntary placement agreement with an agency supervising the child. In the absence of records of a parent’s actual earnings, the court shall impute a parent’s income in the following order of priority:
(a) Full-time earnings at the current rate of pay;
(b) Full-time earnings at the historical rate of pay based on reliable information, such as employment security department data;
(c) Full-time earnings at a past rate of pay where information is incomplete or sporadic;
(d) Full-time earnings at minimum wage in the jurisdiction where the parent resides if the parent has a recent history of minimum wage earnings, is recently coming off public assistance, disability lifeline benefits, supplemental security income, or disability, has recently been released from incarceration, or is a high school student;
(e) Median net monthly income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the United States bureau of census, current population reports, or such replacement report as published by the bureau of census.
Calculating accurate income for support is critical so that support is set accurately.