To Count or Not to count Child Support, that is the question…

By Katie Rawson, Compliance Analyst

Recently, I have come across files where management is counting child support although it is not being received.  There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. 

When should you count child support income and how much should be counted?  Count the full amount when it is court ordered and received.  Also count it when it is voluntarily given. When court ordered and partially received or received some times and not others, average the amount received in a specific period (the last six months, year, etc., just be consistent) and annualize. 

When would child support NOT be counted?  The 4350.3 Rev 1 states “Owners must count alimony or child support amounts awarded by the court unless the applicant certifies that payments are not being made and that he or she has taken all reasonable legal actions to collect amounts due including filing with the appropriate courts or agencies responsible for enforcing payments.” This means that if there’s a divorce decree with support ordered or if the custodial parent has filed with the court for support, you must count the fully ordered amount whether it’s received or not, unless attempts to collect have been made.  If the Department of Child Services is involved it can be presumed that that agency will seek payment on behalf of the tenant. Payment history that is often supplied by the Department of Child Services should be reviewed for recent payments. If there have been any recent payments then child support income should be counted, averaging if need be as mentioned above. If payments are not received you would not need to count the court ordered support.

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