Calculate Child Support: Do One-Time Relocation Payments Count As Income?

Pittsburgh divorce lawyer Anna CiardiQuestion:

How do child support calculations count one-time relocation payments?

I moved as a requirement of my employment and received a tax neutral relocation payment to offset losses on the house I sold, moving, and purchasing expenses.

Can my ex-wife go after that money next year when it shows up on my W-2 as wages for this year? My problem is that it was a one-time payment and my wages have not increased.


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce and child support laws where I am licensed to practice.

When it comes to calculating child support awards, states have developed extremely broad definitions of income.

Irregular forms of income, such as the relocation payment you mention, pose a difficulty for courts. They have to balance their goal of ensuring that children get all the support to which they are entitled, while taking care to set the support obligation based on actual dependable income.

The decision whether to include your relocation payment may very well be a decision that is left up to the court to decide based on the specific facts of your case. Therefore, you should retain as much documentation as possible regarding the expenses and losses you incurred during the move.

You want to be able to show that the relocation payment was not income, but rather it just offset your expense and loss, and that in reality you have no net gain in income.

Where I practice, there is case law that has held that nonrecurring income, such as payments for relocation expenses which are designated and used for a specific purpose, will not be included in determining a party’s current income.

However, you should consult with a domestic relations attorney licensed in your state regarding how your situation will be treated under your state’s child support laws.

Child Support Calculator:

What Counts As Income?

When making these kinds of determinations courts often consider whether the family would have benefited from the payment if it were still intact. For example, if your employer offered you a bonus as an incentive to move, that is very likely to be considered as income available for support because if you were still married your children would likely benefit from that extra money.

However, here, where the repayment is just to offset losses and you really haven’t received extra money on top of your regular wages, the court is less likely to count that as income.

That being said, you should probably be prepared to show that you did not receive a net gain in income as a result of the move and relocation payment, because if your ex-wife does seek a modification the burden will be upon you to show that you had no real gain in income and that your wages did not increase.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Anna M. Ciardi, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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