Deviations from Child Support Guidelines in California
Deviation from Child Support GuidelinesThe issue of when deviation from guidelines is appropriate poses a challenge for States. Too many bases for deviation undermine the effectiveness of standard calculations; yet, some flexibility is necessary to prevent inappropriate orders where unusual circumstances exist. While the standard guideline calculation addresses the basic needs of a child, deviation criteria tailor the order to meet the needs of a specific child or children. When a deviation is made, Federal law requires that the decision-maker must make findings on the record that "state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines." The standard is the best interest of the child. Some States, such as Delaware, provide little guidance to the decision- maker by way of deviation criteria. Others, such as Florida, provide detailed and specific guidelines on what constitutes the basis for deviation.
Other Reasons for Deviations from Child Support GuidelinesThe previous section discusses extraordinary medical expenses. Two other common reasons for deviating from the guidelines relate to educational expenses and the presence of additional dependents. Increasingly, courts are also factoring in the Federal tax dependency exemption. Educational expenses. Deviation from guidelines for educational expenses are primarily attributed to one of four costs: o private school costs, including tuition; o programs for special needs children; o post-secondary or college expenses; or o extracurricular programs and activities. In deciding whether to award educational expenses, the decision-maker will usually look to the income of the parents and their decisions regarding educational issues when they were together. Factors can include: o the type of schooling in which the child was enrolled in prior to the separation or divorce; o the special needs of the child for whom support is sought; o whether the parents went to private school; o whether the parents can afford private school costs; and o whether it is necessary to maintain the child's current status and well-being. Many State courts have acknowledged the need for a college education. Usually there must be an authorizing statute, prior case law, or an agreement of the parties for a court or administrative agency to require payment of support after emancipation when the child wishes to attend college.