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CHILD SUPPORT MYTH #6

YOU WILL ALWAYS PAY EXACTLY what the child support guidelines recommend.

FACT: Not necessarily. While the child support formula must be calculated to determine the starting point, Judges, General Magistrates and Hearing Officers presiding over child support cases do have some leeway in setting that number. The leeway is called “deviation” and the Florida Supreme Court even provides you with a form pleading that we have linked here: https://www.flcourts.org/content/download/403167/3457336/943.pdf

Once child support has been set, it is too late to ask for a deviation. A deviation must be requested BEFORE child support is set on a permanent basis, and remember, as you ask for a downward deviation, your ex might ask for an upward deviation.

Legally permitted factors favoring deviation include:

  • Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses you have, your children have, or even your children from a new relationship have.
    • While some judges have the view that you chose to have additional children after support was set for your older children, most judges agree that any special needs of subsequent children are NOT your choice, and are often extremely financially burdensome. This factor is the factor we see most likely to garner a deviation.
  • Independent income of child(ren), excluding the child(ren)’s SSI (supplemental security income).
    • This is rare, but there are some children that have monies of their own, including lawsuit proceeds that cover their medical expenses.
  • Payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
    • This can be your elderly parents, so long as you can prove you have supported them or that your ability to work certain hours has been impacted by their needs
  • Seasonal variations in one or both parent's income or expenses.
    • This is an important one if you have a high season or an annual bonus that might inflate your year to date income. For those that are seasonal, choosing the wrong month to calculate support using year to date income can cause child support to be a number that is completely off-base.
  • Impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption.
    • If you are entitled to the exemption under the IRS Code, and you waive your right to the exemption for one or all of your children, this should be factored into the child support as it gives the other parent additional income.
  • Application of the child support guidelines which requires the obligor to pay more than 55% of gross income for a single support order.
  • Residency of subsequently born or adopted child(ren) with the obligor, include consideration of the subsequent spouse's income.
  • Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result, which may include reasonable and necessary expenses or debts jointly incurred during the marriage.
    • We use this factor in unmarried cases when the parents bought a car or incurred debts together. Without a marriage, there can be no divorce, and no affordable and practical way to get back any burden you might have when you got stuck with a debt. We have successfully argued application of use of this piece of the statute in such a circumstance. We have also used this factor when setting child support in a divorce case when one spouse is bearing more in IRS liability for returns filed during the marriage.
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