What is “Gross Income” for Purposes of Child Support?

Brandon WaltripDivorce & Child Custody

Child Support is determined by a parents Gross Income. But, what is “Gross Income?”Under Virginia Code §108.2(C) gross income means “all income from all sources.” This includes, but is not limited to income from salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends … spousal support, rental income, gifts, prizes and awards.” Courts takes a very broad approach in construing this language. Courts will include “nonmonetary as well as cash income.”

         In Howe v. Howe, the Court of Appeals included a party’s contributions to their retirement plan as well as a $10,000 gift. The Court stated “the emphasis should be on including, not excluding, income especially where including the income more accurately reflects a parent’s economic condition and financial circumstances.”
         The broad construction of gross income is however, not without limitations. The Court of Appeals has ruled that “[d]etermination of support awards must be based on contemporaneous circumstances.” In DeTuncq, the Court held “income includes bonuses, but should not include income ‘premised upon the occurrence of an uncertain future circumstance.” This was re-affirmed in Broadhead, where the Court stated “a trial court should only include a conditional bonus within the employee’s gross income when, at the time of the evidentiary hearing, the conditions are reasonably likely to be met for the bonus to vest.” The finding in Broadhead resulted in the Court of Appeals excluding a party’s “predicted bonus.” Id. at 19.
         In McMartin the Court of Appeals further limited the inclusive nature of Gross Income when it found that incomes appearing as commissions, advances, and gifts should not be included where they are in fact loans. In McMartin, a wife was given financial help from her employer and friend, which included a down payment on a home, money advanced for living expenses, money paid for wife’s life insurance, and $900 per month in rent the wife was not charged.
         The Court found the money given “over and above her salary … [were] advances against her future commission.” The Court ruled “the advances and payments were in the nature of loans, rather than gifts and commissions.” Furthermore, there was no authority “that compels, as a matter of law, the inclusion of a loan in party’s gross income.” And, there was “no indication that the advances will not be repaid by wife upon receipt of her commission.”


  1. Courts in the Commonwealth will include any and all incomes in determining gross income. 
  2. Limitations require income to be contemporaneous and not in the form of loans.
         If you have questions regarding your Child Support please contact Brandon C. Waltrip, or one of the other attorneys at Collins | Waltrip, PC to discuss your case. 

Statutes and Case Law to Consider

Code of Virginia §108.2(C) (1950 as amended)
Turner v. Commonwealth, 226 Va. 456 (1983)
Broadhead v. Broadhead, 2010 Va. App. LEXIS 101 (unpublished)
Carmon v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 21 Va. App. 749 (1996)
DeTuncq v. DeTuncq, 2001 Va App LEXIS 248 (unpublished)
Howe v. Howe, 30 Va. App. 207 (1999)
McMartin v. McMartin, 2006 Va. App. LEXIS 41 (unpublished)
***This Blog is NOT Intended to replace actual Legal Advice. Please See a Licensed Attorney if you have questions regarding any legal matter.