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What if the child support guidelines amount is not fair?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Family Law |

In a Mississippi family law case, children and serving their best interests is one of the most important aspects that the court will consider. This includes an appropriate child support award. There are myriad factors that are considered with child support and to smooth the process, the state has child support guidelines.

When using the guidelines, the court will look at how many children there are. With that, there is a percentage of the supporting parent’s adjusted gross income that will need to be paid. For example, one child would warrant 14% of the adjusted gross income in child support. Two children would be 20% and it increases incrementally.

In some instances, the child support guidelines might not be appropriate based on the circumstances. Parents who think the award – whether they are paying it or receiving it – is unfair can overcome the presumption that the guidelines are suitable. It is important to know how to do so and when the argument can be effective.

Know the criteria to deviate from the child support guidelines

Parents who believe their situation and the child’s needs are not going to be served by adhering to the child support guidelines must be aware of when deviations can be used to decide on the amount.

Children will have fundamental needs that must be met. When extraordinary costs are related to those needs and the child support guidelines are not enough to meet them, then the court can order a different amount. For example, if the child has specific educational requirements that make it necessary for them to attend a special school, the child support order can be made to reflect that. The same is true for medical, psychological and dental needs.

Some children have independent income. Perhaps the child is a performer. In these instances, the parental requirement to support the child will differ greatly than it would in most circumstances. Parental income can vary. It could be based on seasonal work or times during the year when they earn more money than others. This too can be accounted for.

Child custody is not irrelevant in child support determinations. If the non-custodial parent has more time with the child than is customary in a family law case, then the financial outlays made by the custodial parent will be less. Then the child support order can reflect that. The same is true in the opposite way where a parent who is not spending much or any time with the child could see the amount increased.

Assets available is, of course, a factor. The primary goal is to reach a fair result and to provide for the child. If that means that the child support guidelines will be pushed to the side to achieve that, then that is what the court will do.

Parents need to make sure they are treated fairly in a family law case

It is imperative that the parents have someone on their side who will look at the case and help them achieve an equitable result. Regarding child support, that could come in many forms. Deviating from the established child support guidelines is one.

From the start, it is important to have all the necessary information to make a clear and comprehensive case as to how much the parent believes they should receive or pay in child support. This could mean that the guidelines will not be used to make the decision. Regardless, it is wise to be prepared.