What to Know About Child Support Deviations

a mother and father walking with their child
Aug 25, 2023 | Content

When the judge determines the amount of child support owed in a divorce or child custody case, they base their decision in part on a formula known as the Basic Child Support Obligation. This formula takes into account a wide range of factors before recommending an amount of monthly child support payment in a specific case.

It is important to keep in mind these recommendations are informative, but they are not binding. The judge has the right to change—or deviate from—the amount of monthly support suggested by this formula. If you want to modify a child support arrangement, let a seasoned family attorney guide you on what you need to know about child support deviations.

How the Basic Child Support Obligation is Determined

The judge considering a child support case first considers the recommendations of the Basic Child Support Obligation formula. Using this calculation, they consider all the income earned by both parents to determine the appropriate monthly payment. The judge also evaluates the expenses and debts that a parent has. With this information, the judge reaches a decision on a recommended monthly child support payment.

Some Deviations to Child Support Recommendations are Mandatory

There are certain factors that require the judge to deviate from the recommendations of the Basic Child Support Obligation. These mandatory deviations include the cost of work-related childcare and health insurance premiums.

Work-Related Childcare

For their safety, minor children require regular supervision. This can be difficult for working parents to arrange. Work-related childcare refers to the expenses a parent must cover to maintain employment. This childcare is necessary to allow the parent to earn a living and provide for the child. Alternatively, the cost of this care can result in a deviation if it is necessary to allow the parent to complete their education or training.

Health Insurance

The second example relates to the cost of health insurance for a minor child. A parent can seek to have their monthly child support payments adjusted downward based on how much they spend on their child’s health insurance premiums each month.

Judges Have Discretion in Child Support Decisions

Deviating is allowed but not required. That means a judge has the opportunity to alter the recommended award or leave it in place.  The judge can only deviate from the recommended payment amount when they find that it is in the best interest of the child to make this change. These changes can either increase or decrease the amount of child support a parent is required to pay.

Talk to an Attorney About Child Support Deviations

These are the most important things to know about child support deviations. If you still have questions, our trusted attorneys can provide you with answers. The right legal counsel ensures you end up with a child support order that is fair and equitable for all parties. Reach out to the Atlanta Divorce Law Group as soon as possible for a confidential consultation to discuss your options.

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