Will a Bonus be Calculated into Child Support?
Bonuses are considered for child support purposes. It’s 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. With regard to 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 doesn’t 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 with what the bonus was and generally a pay stopper whoever it was received and that percentage can vary from case to case. That’s an area that’s really within the judicial discretion of the judge although my experience would be that that bonus amount would 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’s not a certainly a hard and fast rule. That’s not law.
In some cases, the bonus is treated as though if it’s paid fairly regularly, say that a commission sales person gets a commission that is pretty set on a monthly basis, that 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’s something that’s arguably just paid when it’s received. Overall, the general treatment of bonuses is that a percentage is paid to the recipient spouse when and if received.
This informational blog post was provided by Cynthia Hanley, an experienced Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.