Does the court ever deviate from the guidelines?
Yes. Courts generally follow the child support guidelines. However, a court may modify the amount of support generated by applying the standard, but only if it finds, after considering a number of factors specified in the statutes, that the use of the percentage standard is unfair to the child or to any of the parties. The factors to be considered by the court in deviating from the guidelines are as follows:
- The financial resources of the child.
- The financial resources of both parents.
- Maintenance payments received by either party.
- The needs of each party to support himself or herself at a level equal to or greater than the federal poverty level.
- The needs of any person, other than the child, whom either party is legally obligated to support.
- If the parties were married, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not ended in annulment, divorce, or legal separation.
- The desirability that the custodian remain in the home as a full-time parent. • The cost of day care if the custodian works outside the home, or the value of custodial services performed by the custodian if the custodian remains in the home.
- The award of substantial period of physical placement to both parents.
- Extraordinary travel expenses incurred in exercising the right to periods of physical placement.
- The physical, mental, and emotional health needs of the child, including any costs for health insurance ordered by the court.
- The child’s educational needs.
- The tax consequences to each party.
- The best interests of the child.
- The earning capacity of each parent based on each parent’s education, training, and work experience and the availability of work in or near the parent’s community.
- Any other factors the court determines are relevant in a particular case.