Did you know that the depreciation a party claims on their taxes for a real estate investment is supposed to be added back to the gross income for child support calculation purposes? It is not considered a business expenditure by the Courts, and therefore cannot be used to reduce the amount of income available for support calculations. Because support calculations are based on the total amount of income available to each party, depreciation of property would provide one party with more income because the deduction would not be accounted for. This can be useful information for a party whose ex-spouse has substantial real estate investments.
Figuring out how much child support you should be paying can sometimes be a frustrating task. First, you will have to figure out what the gross income is of each parent. The tax deductions and tax rate will make a significant difference, so be sure those numbers favor your side. The Department of Child Support Services has an online calculator and manual available at:
As a general rule, the more you pay in taxes, the less you pay in support. If you don’t understand this, you can shoot yourself in the foot, so to speak, when you discuss the matter with the opposing side. I have had clients who have looked at the calculations and begin to state, “Hey wait, I am not single and one! I am married and four!” Had I not been there to stop them from finishing their sentence, they would have just talked themselves into paying a few hundred more every month.
When hiring an attorney, it may be important to make sure that they understand how the calculations work. I have had extensive training in taxation matters, and this knowledge has saved my client on more than one occasion. I once was employed by a firm where the main attorney had over 10 years experience. She was trying to stipulate a judgment based on an incorrect calculation. The case was handed over to me to finish, and I noticed that the calculation was based on the opposing party’s income that was nontaxable in the “other taxable” box. The result was my client owed $800 less every month than her own attorney (my boss) was trying to stipulate to! I immediately called opposing counsel and asked them to correct this error, or there would be no agreement. My client was elated! The whole point is that you should not assume your attorney knows the calculator program well, even if they have been practicing many years. Ask questions if you don’t understand.
Guideline child support, while normally ordered by the court as the amount of child support owed, may not be appropriate in certain situations. Family Code Section 4057 allows a departure from guideline Child Support amounts when ordering the guideline amount of child support would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case. This requires an extensive knowledge of case law. If you believe that other income or factors should be considered by the court that do not fall under the category of traditional income, you should hire an attorney to represent you.