Gross Income is the Standard
In Utah, the courts and the Office Recovery Services use a party’s gross income for purposes of calculating child support. At first glance this would seem to cast an unfair burden on because as everyone knows gross income is not the money that one takes home. One would think that the proper amount to use would be a party’s net income.
Fortunately, the Utah Legislature has established some guidelines for child support which take into account net income; however, the guidelines require the use of the gross income figures and then the calculations factor in other things such as taxes in determining the what the child support amount should be.
What is Gross Income?
Gross income is specifically defined as any income, whether earned or unearned. “Earned income” is limited to one full-time 40 hour/week job. The court will consider the income that comes from working more than 40 hours a week only if the parent “normally and consistently” worked more than the 40 hour work week before the original support order is entered.
Government welfare such as housing subsidies are not included as part of a parent’s income. But “royalties, bonuses, rents, gifts from anyone, prizes, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, alimony from previous marriages, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment compensation, income replacement disability insurance benefits, and payments from ‘nonmeans-tested’ government programs” are all included as part of the statutory gross income definition.
The code also sets forth guidelines for determining self-employed income. Specifically, self-employment income is determined by deducting the necessary business expenses from the gross receipts of the business. Necessary expenses are only those that will “allow the business to operate at a reasonable level.” The gross income of a self-employed individual for purposes of child support may not necessarily be the same as his gross income for tax purposes.