While figuring out child support is never an easy task, it is relatively simple when both parents work a traditional job and earn a paycheck. Especially if their paychecks are predictable, calculating child support is a matter of applying the Illinois Child Support Guidelines to each parent's salary.
However, when a Peoria, Illinois, parent works in her own business, her income might not be steady. For example, even a successful realtor who works hard may have months in which she sells several homes or buildings followed by months of making very little income.
This makes figuring child support more difficult, as it would not be fair to base child support on either the lean months or on the one or two months in which business was exceptionally good.
Typically, a court will use the person's tax returns as a starting point. As is the case with taxes, courts will generally figure a parent's self-employment income by taking his revenue and subtracting his business expenses. The court will then average out the parent's annual income and divide it by 12 to get monthly income.
The complicated piece of this puzzle is that not everything that can be deducted from a self-employed parent's taxes will automatically also reduce her income for child support purposes. For instance, courts have some leeway to ignore business tax deductions for items like depreciation and for other deductions which might make child support unfairly low.
Likewise, if the parent receives certain benefits from the business, like the use of a car on the business's dime or some other perk, then the value of that benefit may count as income for child support purposes.
Figuring out a parent's income for child support purposes can be difficult when he earns a living via his own business. However, experienced family law attorneys can be of valuable assistance.