Child Support

What is included in gross income for purposes of calculating guideline child support?

When calculating guideline child support, gross income includes any and all income derived from any source whatsoever, except income from child support payments, income from any need-based public assistance program, and income from spousal support payments from the same child support proceeding. The courts have also held other types of income as included or excluded from gross income.

Gross income includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Wages and salaries
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Royalties
  • Rental income (gross receipts less expenditures; however, depreciation of rental property cannot be deducted from gross receipts for purposes of calculating child support)
  • Interest and dividends
  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • Trust income
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Spousal support payments from a different proceeding
  • Business income (gross receipts less expenditures)
  • Employee benefits (these are in the court’s discretion)
  • Earning capacity, aka “imputed income” (this is in the court’s discretion, consistent with the best interests of the children)
  • Payor’s receipt of recurring monetary gifts over many years, made in a fixed, regular, routine stream of payments [Marriage of Alter (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 718]
  • Payor’s receipt of rental value of rent-free housing [Stewart v Gomez (1996) 47 Cal.App.4th 1748]
  • Lottery winnings

Gross income does not include the following:

  • Child support payments received from this proceeding or any other proceeding
  • Spousal support payments from the same proceeding
  • Inheritance
  • Cash advances in lieu of an inheritance [Marriage of Williamson (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1303]
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits [Elsenheimer v Elsenheimer (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 1532]
  • Derivative Social Security Benefits [Marriage of Daugherty (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 463]
  • Student loan proceeds not used for books and tuition [Marriage of Rocha (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 514]
  • Life insurance death benefits (except interest income earned on the principal amount of the benefits is included in gross income) [Marriage of Scheppers (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 646)
  • Increased, unrealized equity value in payor’s residence [Marriage of Henry (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 111]
  • Irregular, one-time, and non-cash gifts [Anna M. v Jeffrey E (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 439]
  • Lump-sum, annuity payments, or structured settlements of personal injury award that is not differentiated between the elements of damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages [Marriage of Heiner (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 1514;¬†Marriage of Rothrock (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 223]

While guideline child support is calculated effortlessly by the DissoMaster program, there are many legal nuances to the inputs that go into the DissoMaster calculation. The determination of what is included as gross income can be complicated and require legal argument. Contact the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas to consult with a Family Law Attorney about your child support matter. We serve the cities of Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, and surrounding areas in Ventura County.


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