In North Carolina, child support is typically calculated using the Child Support Guidelines. You need to determine each party's gross income. As a general rule of thumb, someone's income for child support purposes is different- higher- than their income for tax purposes. The child support guidelines define gross income as "gross income from any source, including but not limited to inc ome from employment or self-employment (salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, etc.) ownership or operation of a business, partnership, or corporation, rental of property, retirement or pensions, interest, trusts, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, workers compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability pay and insurance benefits, gifts, prizes and alimony or maintenance received from persons other than the parties to the instant action
A common question I am asked is how are bonuses treated, or other non-recurring/regular income. When income is received on a regular, non-recurring or one-time basis, the court may average or pro-rate the income over a specific period of time or require the obligor to pay as child support a percentage of his or her non-recurring income that is equivalent to the percentage of his or her recurring income paid for child support.
A recent case came before the court of appeals, and one of the issues presented to the court was the treatment of non-recurring income. In this case, the parent paying child support, the father, was a professor at UNCW. In addition to his regular recurring salary of $7,682.25, he periodically received additional "supplemental pay" of $450 per month, but only received this for the months of February, March, April, and May 2013. In January and June 2013, he only received his regular monthly pay. The trial court found that the father's monthly income for child support was $8,132.25, or by adding his regular pay with his research pay, which was incorrect as the father wasn't receiving the research pay each month. The trial court should have averaged this additional research pay over the course of a period of time (a year or six months is common) or required him to pay an additonal amount of child support in the months he receives the extra research pay.