What Factors Can Cause a Child Support Deviation from Tables?

In Arizona, child support is based on the state guidelines which provide a presumptive amount of support based on the income of the parents and the number of children considered in the support order. However, there may be times when the court orders more or less child support than the amount indicated in the tables. Some of these considerations are part of the guidelines’ requirements but, sometimes, the Court will “deviate” from the guidelines if it has cause to do so.

Childcare Costs

Under the Guidelines, the court can consider the costs of childcare when they determine the proper amount of child support, although it doesn’t have to. The court may consider the parents’ financial abilities in comparison to the amount of childcare. The court might average childcare costs across the year even though childcare may be used more in the summer than during the school year. Additionally, the court can consider the child care tax credit if it provides more child support due to this factor.

Age of Child

The court will find an upward adjustment from the child support tables if one or more children are over the age of 12. As the theory goes, it costs approximately ten percent more to raise an older child, so the court can add 10 percent to the obligation based on this factor alone.

Extraordinary Expenses

The court can also deviate from the child support tables when the child has extraordinary expenses because the guidelines were set up to account for the typical child. If the child has special needs or other extraordinary expenses for which the parents pay out of pocket, the child support obligation may be increased.

Educational Expenses

Expenses like private school, special education classes, and tutoring can also be factored into the cost of the child support obligation.

Parenting Time

The Court will include a parenting time credit adjustment in any child support worksheet.  Generally speaking, the more parenting time a parent has with the child, the less child support they pay all other factors remaining equal. This is based on the premise that as a parent spends more time with the child, he or she is likely incurring additional expenses during this time, including meals, entertainment and an increase in household bills.

Legal Requirements for a Deviation

A true deviation from the Guidelines occurs when the Court takes all of the above considerations into account, and still finds the support to be inadequate or unjust. Before a court can deviate from the guidelines, it must find that the guidelines are inappropriate or unjust in the specific case, calculate what the presumptive amount should be and consider what is in the best interests of the child. This information must be specified in the child support order. True deviations happen but are not necessarily the norm.  The Court has to make specific findings that justify the deviation.  Sometimes, it is necessary to employ a financial expert to help make your case with respect to why a deviation is appropriate.

Legal Assistance with Deviations

If you would like legal assistance with asking for or refuting a deviation from the presumptive amount of child support, contact an experienced family law attorney from Udall Shumway. We can discuss whether a deviation may be possible through a court order or by agreement with the other parent.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Child Support Deviation, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.