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How can you pay child support if your income is unpredictable?

You are in the middle of divorce negotiations, and talks have turned to child support. You and your ex have every intention of supporting your child, but the income that comes in is not regular. For instance, you may be self-employed and operate a heavily seasonal business. Alternatively, your ex may be the one who would pay child support, but he or she does freelance work. Some months, the money that comes in amounts to $1,500. Other months, it could be more like $4,000.

What is a good way to calculate child support in such situations?

Do what works for the both of you - and for your child

One nice thing about hammering out divorce agreements between yourself and your spouse is that you have much more flexibility when it comes to child support matters (and other family matters too, of course). If an unusual idea or arrangement may work for your family, it is definitely worth considering.

Know both parents' strengths and weaknesses

For the owners of seasonal businesses, one possible solution is to save the money earned during the busy season to pay in even amounts during the rest of the year. However, if you are not a good saver, it may be better to pay the money in a lump sum up front or to have a third party govern the payments. Understand both your strengths and weaknesses and those of your co-parent.

Some exes try to get out of paying certain amounts of child support, saying that they are not good at saving money or calculating it when it comes in higher than usual one month. That is no excuse to not pay child support because there are ways to address these weaknesses.

Look at tax returns for the average income

A rough guideline could be to estimate your income (or your ex's) for the upcoming year by looking at how much you or your ex earned the previous year. Say that the yearly income was $40,000, even though there was no income for two months and incomes of varying amounts for the other 10 months, ranging from $1,500 to $14,000 per month. Forty thousand equals about $3,333 per month, so that can be a starting point for the income the parent may expect to draw from per month.

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