Deviating From Child Support Guidelines

Under the Child Support Standards Act, when determining child support the Court will combine the parental income and multiply that sum, up to $136,000.00, by the appropriate percentage based on the amount of children there are in the marriage. The percentages are: (1) 17% for one child; (2) 25% for two children; (3) 29% for three children; (4) 31% for four children; and (5) 35% for five or more children.

If the Court decides that the amount of the child support dictated by the Child Support Standards Act is unjust or inappropriate, the Court may, in its discretion, deviate from the guidelines. The Court may increase or decrease the amount of support ordered. However, before the Court can take such action, it must first determine what the guidelines call for and then specifically explain in its order the reason for the deviation. In deciding to deviate from the guidelines, the Court must consider the following nine factors: (1) the financial resources of the parents; (2) the physical and emotional health of the child and his or her special needs and aptitudes; (3) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed but for the dissolution of the household; (4) the tax consequences; (5) the non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the child; (6) the educational needs of the either parent; (7) a determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent’s gross income; (8) the needs of other children that the non-custodial parent is supporting, if not already taken into account, and the financial resources of the person also obligated to support such other children, provided that the resources available to support such other children are less than those available to the children for whom support is now being considered; and (9) provided that the child is not on public assistance, extraordinary visitation expenses of the non-custodial parent or expense incurred by the non-custodial parent during extended visitation that reduce the expenses of the custodial parent. Finally, in addition to these nine factors, the Court may consider any other factor it deems relevant.

What if the combined income is greater than $136,000.00? The guidelines are mandatory up to $136,000.00. For income above the $136,000.00 guideline, the Court may apply the guidelines or it may apply discretionary factors provided for use in determine whether application of the guidelines is unjust or inappropriate. So the bottom line is that if parental income exceeds $136,000.00, the Court may either apply the guidelines or may base its determination on previously mentioned nine factors or a hybrid of the two.

LEARNING POINT: Child support is a complicated. There are tax consequences to be considered and once income exceeds $136,000.00, being able to articulate to the Court how you would like the Court to determine the amount of child support is of paramount importance. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your options and begin preparing your case.

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