is disability checks and social security income excluded from paying alimony?
Family Law Attorney
Alimony, known as spousal support in California may be ordered to be paid from community property or separate property funds. (Family Code section 4338). Pensions are also reachable (Family Code section 2550). Support is payable from "annual gross income" which is defined by statute as:
a) The annual gross income of each parent means income from whatever source derived, except as specified in subdivision (c) and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Income such as commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order under this article.
(2) Income from the proprietorship of a business, such as gross receipts from the business reduced by expenditures required for the operation of the business.
(3) In the discretion of the court, employee benefits or self-employment benefits, taking into consideration the benefit to the employee, any corresponding reduction in living expenses, and other relevant facts.
(b) The court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent's income, consistent with the best interests of the children.
(c) Annual gross income does not include any income derived from child support payments actually received, and income derived from any public assistance program, eligibility for which is based on a determination of need. Child support received by a party for children from another relationship shall not be included as part of that party's gross or net income.
Thus, income is defined the same for child support and spousal support as above.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
I would supplement the first answer by pointing out that you have to examine the Social Security income to determine whether it is SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income, essentially a federal welfare program).
There is case law in California that distinguishes between these two benefits [Elsenheimer v. Elsenheimer (2004) 124 Cal. App. 4th 1532; 22 Cal. Rpter. 3d 447].
This case, combined with California Family Code section 4058(c), has the effect of specifically excluding SSI income from child support calculations. There is no such exclusion with respect to spousal support (alimony). So, there is actually a slight difference with respect to the calculation of income for child and spousal support purposes.