Can the Courts Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines?

Child support guidelines are different in every state, but they do all take into consideration the same primary ideas. These four main considerations are the needs of the child, the ability of the non-custodial parent to support him or herself, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if his parents had not gotten a divorce, and provisions of any additional children the non-custodial parent might have. Issues like parent misconduct and how the parents are dividing their material assets do not affect the amount paid.

When presented with this information, the question of whether or not the court is allowed to deviate from the child support guidelines is raised. Generally, the courts, which differ by state, have the discretion to deviate by five percent either upward or downward. If the court wants to deviate in either direction by more than five percent, they must present legally sufficient reasons for this action.

Even though the opportunity to deviate more than five percent is there, the courts tend to stay within upward or downward of the five percent range. Typically, the courts only go above that mark in exceptional circumstances, including if the child has a special need, such as an expensive medication.

Some examples of when the courts deviate from the child support guidelines are when a parent spends a “significant” period of time with the child, or, on the contrary, the parent does not spend much time with them. Also, a deviation may take place if there are “subsequent” children in the equation.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.