Thibadeau v. Thibadeau – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Thibadeau v. Thibadeau, 150 Wis.2d 109, 441 N.W.2d 281 (1989), the Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order which included educational loans and grants in the mother's gross income for purposes of determining her child support obligation.

In finding that the mother's federal educational grants and loans do not constitute part of her gross income for child support purposes, the Court of Appeals noted that while the Wisconsin child support statute defines income broadly, "federal law excludes educational grants from the definition of 'income' (26 U.S.C. sec. 117)" (150 Wis.2d at 119, 441 N.W.2d at 285), and the mother's student loans "are not 'gross income'" because under the Code of Federal Regulations loans are specifically excluded as income for income taxation (150 Wis.2d at 120, 441 N.W.2d at 285, citing 26 C.F.R. §1.61-1).

In addition, the Court of Appeals observed that the mother's federally sponsored student loans and grants and "educational aid is adjusted in light of other resources to ensure that the amount received does not exceed need ... need for educational funding may not exceed a student's cost of attendance and federal law prohibits use of such money for any purposes other than those connected with education" (150 Wis.2d at 120, 441 N.W.2d at 285).

Thus, the court concluded that the mother's "federal grants and loans are keyed to and allocated solely for educational needs, they are not available for satisfaction of child support" (id.).