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What might warrant a deviation from child support guidelines?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | child support |

In Michigan family law cases, child support is often a topic for disagreement between the parents. While the state has a guideline that dictates how much will be paid and it is based on a formula that factors in the parents’ income, potential income, the child’s basic needs and more, there are times when the court might decide that the guideline is not applicable.

An order can deviate from the child support formula. Both the custodial parent who is receiving support and the noncustodial parent who is paying it should be aware of these potential deviations.

Key points about child support formula deviations

The court will look at each case and decide if using the child support formula would be unfair or inappropriate. At its discretion, it can use a different formula that will better suit the situation. The court will still use the formula as a baseline, but there will be provisions to come to a fair result. The court must state its reasons for the deviation. Parents can also agree on their own to deviate from the formula.

Reasons for a deviation can vary. If a child has special needs, that will be an obvious justification. Some children have extraordinary educational expenses or medical costs. This too will justify a deviation. In cases where a parent is a minor themselves, the court can order a different amount than the guidelines suggest.

Income is a key part of the child support order. When the child’s residence falls below the threshold to get public assistance and one of the parents has the means to pay additional support so they will have a standard of living beyond that threshold, then there can be a deviation.

Parents whose income changes based on intermittent bonuses might be asked to pay more. In some instances, the child earns income. If that income is extraordinary, it can impact the child support order. Other factors can include issues that limit the parent’s means, paying for daycare and other considerations that will play a role in serving the child’s best interests.

For child support deviations, it is important to have professional advice

Parents might look at the child support guidelines and be concerned that it does not address their needs to properly care for the child. When that is the case, there can be deviations to the award.

Every case is assessed on its own merits and this is important from the perspective of both the supporting and receiving parent. When establishing a child support order, it is imperative to have professional assistance to try and reach a fair outcome, especially if there is a request for a deviation.