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Can child support orders deviate from legal guidelines?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | Firm News |

In Mississippi divorces, children are a primary focus. Since they often get caught in the middle of the parents’ dispute, state law strives to ensure their best interests are served and they are properly cared for.

Part of that is ensuring the child support order is sufficient. There is a guideline in place to determine how much will be paid. However, not every case can be easily categorized and there might be deviations in how much is needed. Parents whose situation does not fit into the basic guidelines should know when they might be inappropriate for their case.

Understanding child support guidelines

State law has fundamental child support guidelines in place. These are based on multiple factors including the number of children; adjusted gross income; if there are other children separate for the current case residing with a parent; medical support and more.

Although there is a presumption that the guidelines are suitable, there are ways to overcome that presumption. The parent needs to show that basing the award on the guidelines is unjust or inappropriate.

The criteria for the deviation could be due to the child having extraordinary expenses for some aspect of life such as their education, psychological care, medical care or dental care. Some children earn income of their own. If they do, it could be enough to warrant a change to the child support order.

Parents are often ordered to pay spousal support along with child support. The amount could be considered when deciding if the child support amount should be adjusted from the guidelines. Some parents’ employment, income and expenses can vary based on the season. This too will be assessed.

The child’s needs and their age can lead to an adjustment from the guidelines. If a child has special needs that were part of the family budget, it can mean that they will exceed the guidelines. The parenting agreement could be formulated in such a way that the child support amount will be impacted.

Child care expenses might be needed for the receiving parent to seek employment or due to them being disabled in some way. Finally, the court can look at the entire case and decide that the only way to achieve a fair resolution is to deviate from the guidelines.

Parents should know that the guidelines are not set in stone

In a family law case, many topics can spark disagreement. One is child support and if the guidelines are appropriate or not. For people who believe that their case does not fit within the guidelines—whether from the perspective of the paying parent or the receiving parent—it is imperative to have experienced help to try and find a workable solution.