The laws governing spousal maintenance and child support are written around the idea of steady income. This is fine as long as the spouses have typical 9 to 5, Monday through Friday positions but a growing number of people work nontraditional careers or earn sporadic income through investments or other sources. How are these counted when completing the New Jersey CIS form? It depends on the case.
Self-employment income can be misleading. The amount of income reported on a tax return is not necessarily the amount of money being deposited into a personal checking account each month. This isn’t dishonest or fraudulent. The rules governing taxable income are different than those regarding support-related income. It may be important to use figures from the self-employed person’s bank statements to get an accurate income for the Case Information Statement.
Fluctuating income can come from self-employment, temporary work, seasonal work or other sources. The New Jersey CIS tries to account for this by looking at the previous tax year as well as the last three months, but again this can present a misleading that will unfairly penalize either the payer or payee of maintenance or child support.
Sporadic income may not show up at all in a typical analysis, which is unfair to the other spouse. One case in New Jersey courts involved a man who received payments every five years from an injury claim. The court counted each sum as though it were 60 one-month payments paid continuously when it calculated proper support levels.
Discontinued income comes into play when a spouse’s past income does not reflect future earnings. A spouse might give up part time work that was being done to support the family in light of the lower expenses of living alone after a divorce, so that income shouldn’t be considered in future maintenance payments.
Perks can also affect a person’s true income.New Jersey law states that any benefits received that would lower a person’s cost of living would be considered income. So a company car that is also used for trips to the grocery store could be counted as income.
Family law practices use Case Information Statement software to track these scenarios and more. It allows the attorneys and the courts to get an accurate picture of each spouse’s true ability to provide for themselves and the children, and to calculate a fair level of support.
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