Parental child support obligations are determined in great part by the parties’ respective incomes. When calculating child support, the parents must include their interest on stock options, investments, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and much more in the statement of gross income. Any of these properties may have been divided as part of the community property settlement as well. Therefore, gross income is much, much more than just wages, it includes income from just about any source.
If you’re not familiar with stock options, they are an option to purchase a specific number of shares in the future, but at today’s price. Stock options are a popular method of bestowing a benefit on a corporate employee. Employees may give up pay increases or other benefits and incentives in exchange for stock options in the company they work for. These options typically have restrictions attached, such as a minimum period of employment before the option will vest. The stock vests on the date the option is exercised by the employee-holder. Any profit may be considered as income under the child support guidelines if it is both continuing and recurring.
If you are unsure about whether your stock options, interest, dividends, winnings, or other revenue are “income” for child support purposes, then you should discuss the details with your family law attorney. The Arizona Child Support Guidelines’ definition of gross income is intended to be broadly and flexibly interpreted, and very inclusive. It may include capital gains, veterans’ benefits, prizes and awards, lottery and gambling winnings, insurance and workers’ compensation benefits, and pensions and annuities. If you are seeking support, a good place to begin looking for income which could be included in support calculations is the spouse’s tax returns for the previous two years.