Are bonuses considered in child support?

When Your Spouse Receives a Bonus…

Bonuses are typically considered for child support purposes. It is how the court treats them that varies from case to case. Bonuses gross income, just like any other income a spouse receives under the child support guidelines. In fact, there’s a huge list of things that are considered income. It could be social security, it can be royalties and basically any income that a spouse receives. Regarding bonuses, a court looks at whether the bonuses are given regularly. So, for instance, if you have an annual bonus, it’s generally argued that it’s unfair to include the amount of that annual bonus into the payment all year long because the spouse who’s receiving the bonus does not have the annual bonus until they’re given it. So, in a case like that, the typical treatment would be that a percentage of that gross amount of the bonus would be given to the recipient spouse along with proof of what the bonus was and generally a pay stub. That percentage can vary from case to case.

This is an area that is within the judicial discretion of the judge, although my experience would be that that bonus amount could be anywhere from 15%-28% of the gross amount. Although if I had to narrow it down, I would say it would be more like 25% could be the norm but that certainly not a hard and fast rule. That is not a law. In some cases, the bonus is treated as though it is paid regularly for the most part. Say that a sales person gets a commission that is pretty set on a monthly basis. That commission would be figured into the child support guidelines because it would be something that both spouses could count on. If, however, a commission sales person’s commission goes up and down, then that is something that is arguably just paid when it is received. Overall, the general treatment of bonuses is that a percentage is paid to the recipient spouse when and if received.