What Will the Court Consider Income When Calculating Child Support or Alimony?
The court will include basically all money that comes into either party's pocket as income. That can include normal income earned through employment, self-employment, rental income, interest, winnings, gifts as well as a whole myriad of other sources. In addition, the law does not allow for many of the deductions that a person might claim on his or her income tax, including common deductions such as travel reimbursements and depreciation.
The court's recent decision in the case of Orgnaek v Organek, Michigan Court of Appeals Unpublished Case No. 343441 (July 25, 2019) provides a good example of how the court can include money in a person's income in ways that the person did not anticipate. In Organek, the wife was not employed outside of the home, however, the court stated that when assessing how much money a parent has available for support, the trial court is not limited to consideration of a parent's actual income. Property or principal from an inheritance or a one-time gift is generally not included as income but a gift that one spouse receives from relatives other than a spouse may be included as income if the gift is significant and regularly reduces personal expenses, or replaces or supplements employment income.
The wife's family gave her approximately $57,000 to $67,000 annually. The trial court included this as income to the Plaintiff when it calculated child support. It also refused to grant the wife (or the husband) any alimony and permanently barred it for both. The wife and her family testified the money was a loan and not a gift but the court did not believe these claims based upon other evidence presented by the husband's attorney. The wife was shocked and outraged, so she appealed the case, however the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld this decision by the divorce court.