One problem is the large number of allowances and types of pay that can appear in the Entitlements field. The most common allowances, BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) are non-taxable.
The computer programs used in California to set military child support (usually the one called Dissomaster) require taxable income and non-taxable income to be input separately. The programs first compute taxes on the taxable income, subtract the taxes, and add the remainder to the non-taxable income. Then they apply the child support formula.
If you input taxable income as non-taxable, you will increase the amount subject to the formula, and therefore pay more child support. If you input non-taxable income as taxable, you will pay less, and you will also be cheating. The correct tax treatment of unusual types of special pay is often hard to pin down.
Another problem is predicting future income, which is what the courts are trying to do with the computer programs. In California, the courts input the average monthly income over the last 12 months (not the most recent calendar year), but if special pay or allowance income ends during that period and will not recur, it should not be included at all, or future support payments will be artifically increased.
On the other hand, if special pay or allowance income starts later than the first month of the period and will continue in the future, it should be counted as if it occurred during the entire 12 months, or future support payments will be artificially decreased.
Military Divorce lawyer Stanley D. Prowse is a California Certified Family Law Specialist. We specialize in handling the difficulty of military child support during divorce.