Hello again Bernard,
My name isXXXXX'm a licensed attorney (State Bar of Texas). Glad to try and help out.
Sure sorry for the circumstances, truly. My heart goes out to you.
Accordingly, it brings me no pleasure to share the following information with you. I will speak candidly rather than doing you the disservice of lying or misleading you. I didn't enact the law, and personally I often disagree with it, but nevertheless we're all stuck with it. I just won't do you the disservice of lying or misleading you.
So, here's the truth. The legal definition of "earned income" for such purposes excludes both child support and the retirement account distribution. In other words, while I hate to say so, your former spouse is indeed correct in this regard. I would love to say otherwise, but that would be a lie, pursuant to 42 USC § 1382a.
If you have a follow-up question or need clarification, please just say the word by using "reply" to reach me.
I truly hope all works out for you.