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401(k) contributions are income for child support calculation

February 28, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday affirmed that the money a father contributed to his 401(k) account during his marriage may be included as income for purposes as determining child support.

Alexander Nikolayev, who earned more than $100,000 a year at his job with Eli Lilly & Co., appealed Marion Superior Judge Cynthia Ayres decision to include his voluntary 401(k) contributions to calculate his child support obligation for his one minor son. Alexander Nikolayev and his wife Natalia divorced, with his wife claiming that Alexander Nikolayev held tight control over the family’s finances and did not increase their spending on items even as his salary increased during their marriage. Instead, he used the extra money to contribute more than $1,700 a month to his 401(k) account.

“It is true, as Alexander argues, that the guidelines and Indiana Code 31-16-6-1(a) consider the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved,” Judge Rudy Pyle III wrote in Alexander Nikolayev v. Natalia Nikolayev, 49A05-1207-DR-372. “However, that standard is measured by the parent’s weekly gross income for purposes of determining child support, and it is not the parent’s prerogative to decrease the amount of weekly gross income for determining child support by his decision to invest part of the income.

“In short, the trial court did not err in ordering that the entire amount of Alexander’s salary and regular bonuses be treated as weekly gross income for purposes of determining his child support obligation.”

The judges also upheld the value the trial court placed on the household goods and personal property Natalia Nikolayev purchased after moving out but before her divorce was final. Alexander Nikolayev’s failure to comply with Appellate Rule 31 on this issue results in a waiver of a challenge to the findings on appeal.

 

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