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Beyond the Numbers: Deviating from Child Support Guidelines

 Posted on August 19, 2015 in Child Support

Texas high asset divorce attorney, Texas complex litigaton lawyer, Texas child support lawyer,To determine the amount of child support, the judge mechanically applies the guidelines in Chapter 154 of the Family Code, at least in the vast majority of cases. However, especially if there is a complex child custody dispute, these guidelines are not always reflective of the child's needs. What must a party do to convince a judge to depart from the guidelines, and how is the amount set in these situations?

Unjust or Inappropriate

In the case of Section 154.122, these two words are not synonyms. Instead, they give both the mother and the father a basis to request an increase, or decrease, in child support payments.

"Unjust" implies that the guidelines would require the non-custodial parent to pay too much, because this person's income is lower than the custodial parent's income. Such a situation was essentially unfathomable when this section was first codified in the 1970s, and even when the Family Code was rewritten in the 1990s. However, in today's world, it is not unusual for the mother and father to switch breadwinner and caregiver roles, at least to some extent.

To prove the guideline amount is unjust, the requesting party might offer evidence of the income disparity between the two, adding that the situation is permanent and involuntary.

On the other hand, "inappropriate" means that the guideline support is too low. To convince the judge to deviate and order additional support, it is not enough to show the expense of music lessons or private tutors. The requesting party must convince the judge that these, and other, items are a necessity, as opposed to a luxury.

No matter the nature of the request, the deviation must be in the best interest of the child, as opposed to the best interest of the requesting party. Such a showing is not easy, because the guidelines are presumed to be reasonable and in the best interest of the child.

Setting the Amount

If the judge determines that the guidelines are unjust or inappropriate, the court must use specific factors to set the amount, including:

  • Needs and age of the child;
  • Parents' and child's financial resources;
  • Child care expenses;
  • Post-secondary educational expenses;
  • Health and health insurance factors;
  • Property received, or surrendered, in the divorce settlement; and
  • "Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents."

Child support guidelines are not universally applicable. For a consultation in this matter, contact an aggressive Round Rock high asset divorce attorney today. We represent families throughout Central Texas.

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