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More on what counts as income for child support purposes


A previous post discussed how a parent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is subject to a child support order can expect to have just about any money they make counted as "income" for child support purposes, even if that income would not have to be reported on a person's tax returns.

This principle holds true even for items that are not really "income" in the traditional sense but are one-time payments to one of the two parents. Although any number of arrangements can lead to a parent's receiving a large lump sum payment, common sources of a lump sum payment include payments from insurance settlements, legal settlements and judgments and large payments like tax refunds or a lump sum payment from the Social Security Administration.

All of these payments legally count as income and are thus includible in Pennsylvania's prescribed child support formula. However, the judge hearing the case does have a lot of discretion when taking these sorts of payments in to account. For example, a judge may be less likely to count an insurance payment as "income" if all the money is going to re-build one of the parent's homes which recently burned down.

Furthermore, judges have discretion on how to set up a payment plan with respect to this type of income, as it may well be unfair to calculate child support as if all the lump sum payment had been received at once. A judge may instead elect to assume that the person received a certain amount of the payment annually over the course of several years.

In any event, these special types of income often require special treatment which can involve complicated legal questions. These sorts of child support problems are exactly where the assistance of a skilled family law attorney can prove invaluable.

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