Do The Family Courts Ever Deviate From The Child Support Formula?
When people have children together and their relationship does not last, one person is generally required to pay child support to the other. The family courts will start any child support case using a formula as outlined in state law. Still, there are times when judges will deviate from the formula and issue an order indicating a different amount. Below, our Media child support lawyer outlines how support is determined, and when judges will set the formula aside.
How Do the Courts Determine Child Support?
In Pennsylvania, child support is income-based. This means that when a judge is making a decision on child support, they will consider the income of each parent, and the combined income of both parents. Each parent’s individual monthly income is then divided by the combined income to determine the amount each parent contributes to the combined income.
Once a judge has determined the individual and combined income of the parents, they will then refer to the standard child support obligation guidelines. The guidelines stipulate the appropriate amount of support based on the number of children the parents have together, as well as the parents’ income. The amount of support within the guidelines is then multiplied by the combined monthly income of the paying parent to determine the total amount of child support.
When Do the Courts Stray from the Formula?
As with other legal matters, family law judges have a lot of discretion when making decisions about child support. A judge can deviate from the child support formula when the parent paying it has specific financial needs or when the costs of caring for a child increase. While judges do have a great amount of discretion, state law also outlines specific instances when they can deviate from the child support formula. These instances are:
- The paying parent has extraordinary needs or unusual fixed obligations,
- The paying parent has other support obligations,
- The recipient has additional means of income,
- The children are of a certain age,
- The payer or the recipient have certain assets or liabilities,
- There are medical expenses not covered by health insurance,
- The standard of living the children and spouses enjoyed during the marriage, and
- Any other factor the judge deems relevant, such as the best interests of the children.
Although judges do have a great deal of discretion in child support decisions, they will generally not deviate from the formula on their own. If you believe that you will be ordered to pay child support, you must ask the judge to deviate from the formula and present strong evidence that supports your case and that shows a deviation is necessary.
Our Child Support Lawyer in Media Can Assist with Your Case
If you have a child and believe you will be ordered to pay support, you need sound legal advice. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media child support lawyer can determine how much you may have to pay and prove your case if the formula does not apply to your situation. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or contact us online to book a consultation with our skilled attorney.