When the Court establishes an initial alimony order, it must consider a number of statutory factors including each party’s respective income. A party’s “income” is defined as gross income received from whatever source which specifically includes a party’s wages and overtime. However, when modifying an existing alimony order, income derived from a second job or overtime is presumed to be “immaterial” to a modification of an alimony order if a party works more than a single full-time position and the second job or overtime began after the entry of the initial order.
As for child support, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines states that the “Court may consider none, some, or all overtime income or income from a secondary job. In determining whether to disregard none, some or all income from overtime or a secondary job, due consideration must first be given to the history of the income, the expectation that the income will continue to be available, the economic needs of the parties and the children, the impact of the overtime or secondary job on the parenting plan, and whether the overtime work is a requirement of the job.”
Like alimony, if “after a child support order is entered, a support payor or recipient begins to work overtime or obtains a secondary job, neither of which was worked prior to the entry of the order, there shall be a presumption that the overtime or secondary job income should not be considered in a future child support order.”
Excluding the income earned from overtime or a second job which began after the entry of a previous support order reflects a public policy preference that parents who take on the additional effort to supplement their income should enjoy the benefits of their labor.
It is critical to both a support payor and support recipient that the income from overtime or a second job is properly characterized and documented when an initial child support or alimony order is established. The consequences can have a significant financial impact over the life of a support obligation for both parties. You should consider consulting with a professional if you or your soon-to-be former spouse, historically worked overtime or a second job during the marriage to ensure you are receiving, or paying, the proper support.
Article by Attorney Brian T. Salisbury
Attorney Brian Salisbury’s practice includes all aspects of divorce and family law, as well as probate and trust litigation. His family law practice includes high-net worth, complex divorces as well as child custody disputes, child support and alimony actions, paternity actions, appeals, and actions for modification and contempt. Attorney Salisbury is also a trained Mediator, Category V Parent Coordinator, and a Court appointed Category F Guardian ad Litem investigator.
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