R.S. §9:315 Economic Data and Principles

§9:315.  Economic data and principles; definitions

A. Basic principles.  The premise of these guidelines as well as the provisions of the Civil Code is that child support is a continuous obligation of both parents, children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents, and children should not be the economic victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock birth.  The economic data underlying these guidelines, which adopt the Income Shares Model, and the guideline calculations attempt to simulate the percentage of parental net income that is spent on children in intact families incorporating a consideration of the expenses of the parties, such as federal and state taxes and FICA taxes.  While the legislature acknowledges that the expenditures of two-household divorced, separated, or non-formed families are different from intact family households, it is very important that the children of this state not be forced to live in poverty because of family disruption and that they be afforded the same opportunities available to children in intact families, consisting of parents with similar financial means to those of their own parents.

B. Economic data.

(1) The Incomes Shares approach to child support guidelines incorporates a numerical schedule of support amounts.  The schedule provides economic estimates of child-rearing expenditures for various income levels and numbers of children in the household.  The schedule is composed of economic data utilizing a table of national averages adjusted to reflect Louisiana’s status as a low-income state and to incorporate a self-sufficiency reserve for low-income obligors to form the basic child support obligation.

(2) In intact families, the income of both parents is pooled and spent for the benefit of all household members, including the children.  Each parent’s contribution to the combined income of the family represents his relative sharing of household expenses.  This same income sharing principle is used to determine how the parents will share a child support award.

C. Definitions.  As used in this Part:

(1) “Adjusted gross income” means gross income, minus amounts for preexisting child support or spousal support obligations paid to another who is not a party to the proceedings, or on behalf of a child who is not the subject of the action of the court.

(2) “Combined adjusted gross income” means the combined adjusted gross income of both parties.

(3) “Gross income” means:

(a) The income from any source, including but not limited to salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, recurring monetary gifts, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, basic and variable allowances for housing and subsistence from military pay and benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disaster unemployment assistance received from the United States Department of Labor, disability insurance benefits, and spousal support received from a preexisting spousal support obligation;

(b) Expense reimbursement or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business, if the reimbursements or payments are significant and reduce the parent’s personal living expenses.  Such payments include but are not limited to a company car, free housing, or reimbursed meals; and

(c) Gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income, for purposes of income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership or a partnership or closely held corporation.  “Ordinary and necessary expenses” shall not include amounts allowable by the Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses or investment tax credits or any other business expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for determining gross income for purposes of calculating child support.

(d) As used herein, “gross income” does not include:

(i) Child support received, or benefits received from public assistance programs, including Family Independence Temporary Assistance Plan, supplemental security income, food stamps, and general assistance.

(ii) Per diem allowances which are not subject to federal income taxation under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

(iii) Extraordinary overtime including but not limited to income attributed to seasonal work regardless of its percentage of gross income when, in the court’s discretion, the inclusion thereof would be inequitable to a party.

(iv) Any monetary gift to the domiciliary party when the objective of the gift is to supplement irregular child support payments from the nondomiciliary party.

(v) Any disaster assistance benefits received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Individuals and Households Program or from any other nonprofit organization qualified as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended.

(4) “Health insurance premiums” means the actual amount paid by a party for providing health insurance on behalf of the child.  It does not include any amount paid by an employer or any amounts paid for coverage of any other persons.  If more than one dependent is covered by health insurance which is paid through a lump-sum dependent-coverage premium, and not all of such dependents are the subject of the guidelines calculation, the cost of the coverage shall be prorated among the dependents covered before being applied to the guidelines.

(5) “Income” means:

(a) Actual gross income of a party, if the party is employed to full capacity; or

(b) Potential income of a party, if the party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.  A party shall not be deemed voluntarily unemployed or underemployed if he or she is absolutely unemployable or incapable of being employed, or if the unemployment or underemployment results through no fault or neglect of the party.

(c) The court may also consider as income the benefits a party derives from expense-sharing or other sources; however, in determining the benefits of expense-sharing, the court shall not consider the income of another spouse, regardless of the legal regime under which the remarriage exists, except to the extent that such income is used directly to reduce the cost of a party’s actual expenses.

(6) “Medical support” means health insurance and the payment of the medical expenses of the child.

(7)  “Net child care costs” means the reasonable costs of child care incurred by a party due to employment or job search, minus the value of the federal income tax credit for child care.

(8) “Ordinary medical expenses” means unreimbursed medical expenses less than or equal to two hundred fifty dollars per child per year.  Expenses include but are not limited to reasonable and necessary costs for orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatment, physical therapy, chronic health problems, and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders not covered by medical insurance.  The schedule of support in R.S. 9:315.19 incorporates ordinary medical expenses.

Acts 1989, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 9, §1, eff. Oct. 1, 1989; Acts 1990, No. 117, §1, eff. June 29, 1990; Acts 1991, No. 854, §1; Acts 1993, No. 95, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1155, §5; Acts 2001, No. 1082, §1; Acts 2003, No. 547, §1; Acts 2004, No. 251, §1; Acts 2005, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 59, §1, eff. Dec. 6, 2005; Acts 2006, No. 315, §1, eff. June 13, 2006; Acts 2006, No. 481, §1, eff. Oct. 1, 2006.

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