Child support sometimes counts as part of your income

Do child support payments you receive count as part of your income? The answer varies a great deal depending on the context, and it’s important to plan for this when you’re getting divorced.

For instance, when you’re calculating your federal income tax, child support payments do not count as income, which means you don’t have to pay tax on them.

On the other hand, if you’re buying a house and applying for a mortgage, a bank might consider child support to be income in deciding whether you’re qualified for a loan. Each lender is different, but some consider child support as a financial resource that’s available to you.

The bank might take into account how much child support you receive, how long you’ve been receiving it, and how long you expect to continue receiving it. It might also want to know if there’s a significant chance that your custody arrangements could change in the future.

In most cases, child support counts as income for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). If child support boosts your income above the maximum amount, you won’t be eligible for assistance. The same is true for many state-administered health insurance programs.

On the other hand, child support apparently does not count as income when determining if you’re eligible for subsidies to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Many other contexts can arise where the treatment of child support will vary; you should talk to a family lawyer if you’re uncertain.