Sunday, April 5, 2009

Your Ex and Your Bonus

Pretty amazing, huh? You really are expected to share your bonus with your ex! I know, I think that’s a bunch of hooey, too!

But here’s something CRITICAL to consider right off the bat: are your bonuses included in your W-2? This is important because your support payments are based on your gross W-2 earnings, and if your bonus is already included in your W-2 AND you’re ordered to pay her a percentage of your bonus, then you’re paying her TWICE for your bonus!!!

It’s not likely that anyone else will raise this issue (no one did in our case…or should I say, no one but ME!), so be prepared to raise it yourself.

Here’s our tale of woe:

My husband’s 7/23/03 Order After Hearing stipulated: “7. In the event Respondent receives any future bonus income as a result of employment, he shall pay to Petitioner an additional support amount equal to 23% of such bonus within 10 days of the date on which he receives any such bonus.”

He did as ordered and paid THE DEVIL 23%—or $1,120.79—of his 2003 bonus on 2/16/04, which he’d received on 2/6/04. But this order was stipulated in error. He should never have been ordered to pay THE DEVIL any part of his annual bonuses because they're already included in his W-2s and, as such, are already factored in to his monthly support payments. (!!!) This error wasn’t brought to his attention until I questioned it in 1/05. His attorney didn’t question it, the judge didn’t question it...and even he didn’t question it. In fact, no one considered that his bonus might already be included in his W-2!

This order was reversed in his 1/25/05 Order After Settlement Conference: "5. The order after hearing filed in this matter on 7/25/03, which sets forth the current support orders, requires Respondent to pay Petitioner 23% of any bonus income he receives. Respondent contends that his bonus income is included in the calculation of his gross wages and that to require him to pay an additional 23% of any bonus he receives results in a double calculation for that income for support purposes. Accordingly, Respondent’s obligation to pay Petitioner 23% of his bonus income is hereby stayed without prejudice…"

And while it is absolutely, 100% true that my husband's bonuses are, in fact, included in the calculation of his gross wages, it’s also very interesting to note that at no time was he ever made to substantiate this claim (note the language of his order: “Respondent contends that this bonus income is included in the calculation of his gross wages…”). Hmmm…

He, of course, was not reimbursed for any part of his $1,120.79 overpayment to THE DEVIL.

1 comment:

  1. My ex- husband is an executive , who like many others, decided after a long-term marriage to leave for Barbie. My spousal support is based on a percentage for base pay and a separate percentage that is based on bonuses or stock grants. I receive the percentage of base pay support monthly. I receive the percentage of bonus pay within 30 days after the bonus is paid. I know two other women who receive their support the same way. The trouble is, according to my family law attorney, the Coyrt will not order percentages, you have to negotiate for it. I requested it during our three-year divorce from Hell (things became better after the Judge fined my soon-to-be-ex $10k for Obstruction of Justice). I was told we had to have a fixed monthly amount based on W-2 and all the other factors. When he and Barbie took me back to court a year later, I insisted on the percentage method, we negotiated it, and the Judge thought it made a lot of sense.