Will My Holiday or Year-End Bonus Affect My Child Support Payment?

January 14, 2021

When courts determine child support, numerous factors come into play. The first is the base salary of the non-custodial parent. Where does that leave bonuses? The answer may not be clear since bonuses fall into many different types and categories. Over time, a custodial parent might have to work with a lawyer to compel the courts to re-examine child support due to bonuses.

Many people think of bonuses, including holiday and year-end bonuses, in terms of getting cash or an extra check; however, bonuses can be in different forms. At some companies, bonuses take the form of corporate stock options. Although this additional stock cannot be deposited into a bank account, it has a specific value attached to it. A family court will likely factor in this kind of bonus.

Another bonus could be a commission check based on a sliding scale or percentage. For instance, a salesperson might have to hit specific monthly or quarterly goals to be eligible for commission. At the end of the year, the total amount of commission earned over the year could entitle the employee to an extra bonus.

These are just a few of the types of bonuses a worker could earn at the end of the year. Other bonuses include referral bonuses and profit-sharing bonuses. Each one of them may affect the non-custodial parent’s income level. Usually, the more substantial the bonus, the more often the custodial parent will fight for a change in the child support order.

Expected and Surprise Bonuses

After a divorce, the court will consider what each spouse makes. Anticipated bonuses are added into the equation. If a non-custodial parent tends to earn the same amount each year, the court may decide to take the average earnings to determine a number.

An unexpected bonus may cause challenges. Maybe the non-custodial parent switches employers, ultimately receiving generous bonuses, or a parent may receive a promotion. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a lawyer.

How are Bonuses Added to Child Support Payments?

Bonuses that are expected can be added to child support payments in a couple of ways. They can be divided throughout the year, meaning the custodial parent always knows what to expect. Alternatively, they can be delivered in lump-sum payments. This will be outlined in all child support documentation and agreements.

Unexpected or surprise bonuses might have to be handled on a case-by-case basis. However, one way to avoid major complications surrounding non-custodial parent bonuses can be to add a provision to the child support agreement. The provision would explain the treatment of bonuses in an effort to avoid confusion and contention.

Chester County Family Law Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Custodial Parents with Child Support Needs

Have you discovered that your ex-spouse earned significantly more than expected in holiday or year-end bonuses? You may want to revisit your child support arrangement. Contact one of our Chester County family law lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. for help with child support issues. Contact us online or call us at 610-565-3701 for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.