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How Child Support Is Based on Income

Jackson v. Jackson, 2021-NCCOA-614 (2021)

  1. Facts: Mother and Father had an unincorporated child support agreement for their three children. Custody was shared between the parties. Later, one child aged out. Mother then relocated, and one child moved with her. The other remaining minor child moved in with Father. For this period, Father sought temporary child support and termination of his previous child support obligation because of the change in custody situation. Mother then filed a breach of contract for Father’s lowering and subsequent cessation of child support payments. At trial the court considered Father’s bonuses and commissions as part of his income. His base salary was $58,000, but he testified that he expected to get commissions even though he had not yet received any. The court found that father’s income was $71,000 annually.


  1. Issue: Was the trial court in error in its determination of Father’s income?


  1. Holding:


  1. Rationale: Father’s testimony was that he expected to earn commissions as part of his job at Spectrum. Income for child support is typically actual income at the time of the hearing, and projected earnings may not be considered. However, the court seems not to have considered his commissions or bonuses; Father also testified that he received two “ramp-up period” payments, and deposited a third, totaling somewhere between $12,000-15,000. Therefore, although not expressly written, the Court held that it was not based on projected income, but actual income received. These ramp-up payments were properly considered income.


  1. Observations:


  1. While it seemed like Father wanted to argue that the $71,000 the trial court found as his income was partly based upon his expectation of commissions and bonuses, it in fact was the addition of his “ramp-up” payments. Father further testified that he had received two of these payments and had already deposited the third. He also testified it would amount to twelve to fifteen thousand. Therefore, $71,000 in income was not unsupported by the evidence.
  2. I assume that the court delved further into what “ramp-up period” meant. Was this a period in which Father’s income would be permanently ramped up to a higher amount? Was it just payment for this particular year? This could have had an effect on how the Court treated these payments.


Note: Blog republished from 2021.