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Child support

Child support is a legal mechanism that requires parents to provide for a child's well-being when the child and the parent live separately. Child support often requires one parent to pay another parent to defray the cost for raising their child. It can also involve situations where both parents have lost custody and must pay a third party.

Child support counts as unearned income. This is the parent's—not the child's—income. For example, child support received for a minor parent as a child is not the minor parent's countable income. This income belongs with the income of the minor parent's caretaker or parent. Child support also does not count when the household receives it and uses it for a non-household member. But, it does count when a court order directs the non-custodial parent to pay the household, and he or she instead pays a household expense.

Countable Amount

Use the monthly gross income. Do not exclude any fees the collecting agency charges for collecting these payments.

Most often, this is an average of the last 60 days of income verification or it may be the income that predicts future child support income. If multiple children share a noncustodial parent who is sending the household one payment, divide the total child support by the number of children, and code that amount on each child.

Verification

You must verify the gross pay amounts received in the last 60 calendar days unless the payments follow a variable or sporadic pattern. When these patterns occur, you may average a person's child support income over a longer period of time. When you do not use the last 60 days of income, case note why the last 60 days does not reflect the household member's future income.

Obtain a copy of any court orders, and use the CSML and Ki1 transactions to verify payments made through DHS. When these forms of verification are not available, speak to the person providing this assistance, or obtain a written statement detailing the pay dates and amounts.

FACS Coding

Code child support income in the F95 field for the child for whom the non-custodial parent is paying.

When the child for whom the parent or caretaker is receiving child support does not live in the household, code the child support as a contribution to the client. Select “Contribution from person not included in this household” from the F99 dropdown, and enter the gross amount in F99.

A FACS screenshot highlighting the F98 and F99 blocks.

Example 1:

Ian is a sixteen-year-old high school student. His parents Nelson and Jaime divorced when he was six. Nelson pays Jaime $450 per month in court-ordered child support. Ian is applying for Child Care for his nine-month-old son Sterling. Nelson is not working or receiving any other income. How much income do you count toward his Child Care benefit?

$0. The money Jaime is receiving from Nelson does not count on Ian's case. Ian is meeting the high school need factor and does not have any countable income to code on the Child Care benefit.  

Example 2:

Sylvia, aged 17, and Craig, aged 17, attend high school. They are the parents of a one-year-old daughter Destiny and have not married. Craig lives with his parents apart from Sylvia and Destiny. He voluntarily pays $200 per month to help with Destiny's care. Sylvia has no other income and applies for Child Care on October 1, 2018. Is the amount Craig gives Sylvia countable? What type of income is this payment? 

Craig's payments to Sylvia are not court-ordered. He makes these payments voluntarily, but you still classify these payments as child support. The $200 per month is countable.  

Example 3:

Andrea applies for Child Care on September 22, 2018. She wants care for her three-year-old son Landin. Andrea, aged 22, is attending GED classes. She reports her mother gives her a place to stay and purchases the stuff Landin and she need. Andrea reports her mother does not give her money. She does receive child support payments from Landin's father. Her court order shows she should receive $200 per month, but the payment records show she received $175 in irregular amounts over July 2018 and August 2018. What income counts on Andrea's benefit? 

$87.50. Andrea's mother is giving Andrea in-kind contributions that are not countable. Andrea's child support is countable. Since she is receiving irregular payments, average the gross amounts in the last two months. $175/2months=$87.50. 

Example 4:

Sage receives $500 per month in child support from her ex-husband Grady. There is not a child support court order. Grady sends Sage a $300 check and pays $200 per month to Sage's landlord. How much of Grady's payments are countable? 

$300. Grady's is sending Sage $300 per month as child support and $200 to her landlord as a vendor payment. Without a court order, you do not count Grady's $200 payment to the landlord as income.  

What income is countable if a court order requires Grady to pay Sage $500 in child support?

$500. Grady's vendor payment is now an amount he owes the household. You would count the $200 payment to the landlord and the $300 paid directly to Sage as child support.

What income is countable if the court order requires Grady to pay the landlord $200 per month and $400 to Sage? 

$300. Grady is not fulfilling his full child support obligation. He is paying $500 per month: $200 to the landlord and $300 to Sage. We count the $300 as child support income. The $200 he pays the landlord is not countable. It is an exempt vendor payment.   

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