What Are Valid Reasons for a California Family Court to Deviate from the Child Support Guideline Amount?

According to Section 4057(a) of the California Family Code, child support is initially determined using a complicated formula that looks like this: CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN)). This formula takes into account several factors, include the parents’ income, the amount of the higher net earner’s net monthly disposable income, the parents’ time-share agreement, and the parents’ total combined monthly disposable income. By law, the result of applying this formula is “presumed to be the correct amount of child support to be ordered.”

However, there are certain special circumstances in which such stringent mechanical calculation of child support may neither be reasonable, or fair. These are special circumstances in which may a California family court deviate from the child support guideline amount. In fact, deviation is only allowed when permitted by law:

  • Both parties seem to have agreed to a different amount;
  • Selling the family home has been legally deferred and the home’s rental value is more than the mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes;
  • The parent charged with paying child support “has an extraordinarily high income” and the amount calculated far exceeds the amount that would be actually be required to raise the child;
  • A parent’s contributions to a child’s care are not commensurate with that parent’s custodial time with that child; and
  • Special circumstances exist relating to time-share or special medical needs.

In all these cases, the family law courts must look at admissible evidence that succeeds in making a case as to why the guideline amount is inappropriate or unjust. Even then, the court must record the reasons for its decision in the case record whenever it deviates from the statewide uniform guideline formula amount. This includes describing why deviating from the guidelines is in the best interest of the children.

Arguing that the child support guideline amount should (or should not) be overridden takes skill and deep legal knowledge. If you’re in this position, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger  will make sure you successfully navigate California child support law. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.