Well, in this particular case, the Third Appellate District determined that it was not: In re Marriage of Eastburg, 2016 IL App (3d) 150710.
The Petitioner, mother of the children and residential parent with majority parenting time filed a petition in October 2014 to modify child support based on the Respondent’s (father’s) current income. The parties agreed to increase child support to match 28% of the husband’s 2014 income and stipulated to this in court. During discovery, the Petitioner learned of the Respondent’s $14,239.00 tax refund that she received no share of. The trial court denied Petitioner’s request for 28% of the refund and noted that the parties had already agreed to an increase in child support and the over withholding of income by the husband “did not affect the current support computation.”
The Appellate Court determined that the parties were at fault for stipulated to the child support obligation in open court and not considering the tax refund at this time. The Court noted that there was no fraud in stipulating the payment amount because the Petitioner knew of the tax refund at that time.
The court determined the husband’s 2014 tax refund was part of his net income for that year. However, the court held a payor’s income tax return is not always income for child support purposes. Even though the husband was intentionally withholding income from his paycheck, the court compared the receipt of his refund to withdrawing it from a zero interest savings amount.
This case is a good reminder for parties to thoroughly review each other’s financial discovery and arguing any questionable income not accounted for, such as a tax refund, before stipulating to the payment amount.