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  • Writer's pictureSummers Family Law

Decoding the Rules on Child Support for Self-Employed Parents

As a divorce lawyer in Massachusetts, I read a lot of case law to best advise clients. A recent appeals court decision provides some good lessons on child support that anyone considering or going through a divorce should understand.

The Case Background

In Pinnock v. Pinnock, the husband worked as an Uber and DoorDash driver. His average weekly earnings were over $1,000. However, he had cell phone and car expenses of over $350 per week that were needed for his job.

The parties agreed that a portion of the husband's vehicle and phone costs qualified as necessary business deductions. But they disagreed on how much to deduct. The wife proposed a 50-50 split, while the husband sought to deduct 100% of the expenses.

How the Court Ruled

The trial judge allowed the husband to deduct all of his car and phone costs from his earnings. This reduced his income to $658 per week for purposes of calculating child support under Massachusetts guidelines.

The appeals court said it was unclear if deducting all expenses was appropriate, since the husband clearly used his car and phone for personal reasons too. More analysis was needed on the right deduction percentage.

Takeaways for Our Clients

If you or your spouse are self-employed, be ready to show evidence on legitimate business expenses for income calculations. You may need to allocate costs between business and personal use.

Courts can deviate below or above guideline child support amounts if following the rules would be unjust. But specific factual findings must back up deviations.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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