Missouri Child Support Guidelines and Case Law: Part 1 - Gross Income, Overtime, and Bonuses

For the purposes of calculating child support in Missouri, the Form 14 calculation is used. The starting point is the Gross Income of the parties. So, what does that include and what exactly does it mean? The following is a summary of the official comments and relatively recent court rulings on the definition.

“Gross income" includes, but is not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, partnership distributions, social security benefits, retirement benefits, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment compensation benefits, disability insurance benefits, veterans' disability benefits, and military allowances for subsistence and quarters.

Overtime compensation, bonuses, earnings from secondary employment, recurring capital gains, prizes, retained earnings and significant employment-related benefits maybe included, in whole or in part, in "gross income" in appropriate circumstances.

Excluded from "gross income" is temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) payments, Medicaid benefits, supplemental security income (SSI) benefits, food stamps, general assistance benefits, other public assistance benefits having eligibility based on income, and child support received for children not the subject of this proceeding.

If a parent receives rents or royalties or is self-employed, in a sole proprietorship, or business with joint ownership, "gross income" is gross receipts minus the ordinary and necessary expenses incurred to produce such receipts.

"Income" for purposes of computing the presumed child support amount consists of a financial benefit or money received by a parent that could have a positive impact on the parent's ability to support the parent's children.

Overtime Compensation

When determining whether to include overtime compensation, the Court must consider (1) Periods of temporary child custody, (2) The motivation of the parent working the overtime over the last three years. (3) The amount of the overtime. (4) The expectation that the overtime will continue, (5) additional dependents.

Overtime may be included in a parent’s yearly gross income in appropriate circumstances. The Court must consider all relevant factors, including the realistic expectation that a parent who receives a bonus or overtime will continue to do so. The court can ignore income history and look at a single year's income figure if it finds that figure to be the most accurate predictor of a parent’s income

Bonus and Significant Employment Related Benefits:

The same 5 factors listed above apply to bonus income. Additionally:

Bonuses are discretionary, and the court may accept or reject the reliability and pattern of bonus income.

Expense reimbursements should not be included in monthly gross income on Form 14 because such reimbursements are a repayment or indemnification, which is compensation for loss or damage, as opposed to a benefit, which is profit or gain.

Next Installment: Imputed income