Departing From The Presumed Amounts

Generally the court will determine child support according to the state child support guidelines. However the court can deviate from the state child support guidelines.

Rebuttable Presumption

The use of the state child support guidelines will result in a presumed amount. It is possible to rebut this presumption in some cases. Generally judges tend to stick to the guidelines and do not deviate from them unless there is a good reason to do so.

What the law says

The law assumes that the amount arrived at by applying the child support guidelines is the right amount. This presumption can be rebutted if such amount would be inappropriate or unjust in the circumstances of the case. The court must record the reason for deviating from the guidelines.

In some states, the law specifies the grounds on which the court can deviate from the state child support guidelines. Below are some common grounds. These grounds are based on state law. Please check with your state law.

Child Support in Excess of the Guidelines

• Need for special education such as tutoring or speech therapy
• Special medical or health requirements (including psychotherapy) not included in insurance
• Recreation and after school activities
• Income of new spouse
• Voluntarily quitting existing job or taking up a lower paying job
• Assets not reflecting in the income
• Favorable tax consequences to the paying parent

Child Support Lower than the Guidelines

• Joint or split custody or other unusual custody arrangements
• The non-custodial parent has to incur significant transportation costs to see the child
• The receiving parent has a high income and the child support payable under the guidelines would be more than what is required for meeting the reasonable needs of the child
• Paying parent’s other support obligations – new spouse and children
• Paying parent’s obligation to support disabled or elderly relatives
• Paying parent’s obligations to pay debts incurred during the marriage
• Paying parent’s obligation to use funds for business which may eventually result in increased income for the child
• Custodial parent’s income
• Property division resulting in the custodial parent getting an income producing property or the marital home with low mortgage
• Alimony
• Direct payment of certain expenses of the child (or associated with the child’s welfare) by the paying parent
• Unfavorable tax consequences to the paying spouse
• Any significant earned or unearned income of the child

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