Ask A Divorce Lawyer: Is a “bonus” the same as an “annual incentive plan”?

Question: 

My divorce decree states that I am to pay a part of my “bonus” as child support once the bonus is received each year. The specific wording says “bonus.” My question is: If my company states that they have no “bonus” program, but an “annual incentive plan,” am I obligated to make this payment? I would rather take the money and put it in a college fund for the kids instead.

 

 

 

 

Answer:

First, I must state that I am not licensed in Texas, although Cordell & Cordell, P.C. has attorney’s who are licensed and located in Texas who would be happy to discuss your case with you.

An argument could be made based upon the semantics of the decree. However, a Court may look at what was in place with your company at the time the decree was entered. If your company has always had an annual incentive plan instead of a bonus program, then the Court may rule that this incentive plan is what was referenced in the decree since that was in place.

However, if after the fact your company stopped paying bonuses and changed the structure of how the incentive plans are paid and earned, then there may be a case that this is a different source of income than what was referenced in the decree and you may be able to avoid paying a portion of that out. However, it may also be possible to recalculate child support based upon your new source of income. An attorney in your jurisdiction will be better suited to give you specific advise.

 

Jason Bowman is an attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. He is licensed in the states of Kentucky and Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Louisville, and received his Juris Doctor from Texas Wesleyan University.

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