What is income for calculating child support?
When you have an obligation to pay child support what is income for calculating the total amount you would owe?
For the purposes of determining child support, “net income” is the “total of all income from all sources” minus the statutorily defined deductions. 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3). The concept of “net income” is clearly and intentionally broader than simply wages or earnings, though for many parents there is no practical difference between the two. Illinois caselaw consistently holds that IMDMA §505 is to be used for determining net income available for child support as opposed to other statutorily defined definitions, including the IRS tax code.
The statute does not define “income” for purposes of determining child support. In such cases, courts give undefined words their plain and ordinary meaning. See In re Estate of Poole, 207 Ill.2d 393, 799 N.E.2d 250, 278 Ill.Dec. 532 (2003). In In re Marriage of Rogers, 213 Ill.2d 129, 820 N.E.2d 386, 390, 289 Ill.Dec. 610 (2004), the Illinois Supreme Court discussed the plain and ordinary meaning of the term “income”:
As the word itself suggests, “income” is simply “something that comes in as an increment or addition . . . a gain or recurrent benefit that is usu[ally] measured in money . . . the value of goods and services received by individual in a given period of time.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1143 (1986). It has likewise been defined as “[t]he money or other form of payment that one receives, us[ually] periodically, from employment, business, investments, royalties, gifts and the like.’ Black’s Law Dictionary 778 (8th ed. 2004).
Illinois courts have also defined “income” as “a gain or profit” and “ordinarily understood to be a return on the investment of labor or capital, thereby increasing the wealth of the recipient.” In re Marriage of Worrall, 334Ill.App.3d 550, 778 N.E.2d 397, 399, 268 Ill.Dec. 411 (2d Dist. 2002), quoting Villaneuva v. O’Gara, 282 Ill.App.3d 147, 668 N.E.2d 589, 592, 218 Ill.Dec. 105 (2d Dist. 1996). Under these definitions, a variety of payments qualify as income under §505(a)(3).