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How one figures income in difficult support cases

Under Illinois law, just about any money a parent makes, even if it is not taxable, can count when a court is determining child support. In fact, one of the most controversial parts of figuring child support is determining the appropriate figure to input for each parent's income.

Generally speaking, child support laws favor calculating income generously rather than risk underestimating a parent's income and, thus, the amount of support a child will receive. As such, a parent can, and should, ask to see the other parent's paystubs and tax returns, but should also ask for documentation of their pensions, stocks, trusts, and other accounts.

They should also inquire as to whether the other parent is getting important expenses, like a house payment or car payment, covered by another person. Sometimes, a parent may have to use a subpoena or other legal process to get this information, but an attorney can assist the parent with that process.

There are a couple of situations in particular in which it may be harder to determine what a parent's income really is. In the first situation, a parent might be self-employed and make a living running his or her own business. Even after reviewing the parent's or company's tax return, it can still be hard to know exactly how fat of a paycheck the parent is bringing home, and, in turn, how much he can afford in child support. It may be important to ask for things like paystubs from the parent's business to his personal account or similar information.

While figuring child support can be difficult in some cases because it is hard to figure a parent's income, an attorney can help a parent locate the right information for calculating income and can also help with effectively presenting this information to the judge.

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