Deviations from Guideline
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In California, child support is based on a Guideline Child Support Calculator that takes into account several financial factors. The court can deviate from a Guideline Child Support order on a rare occasion. These deviations must comply with California Family Code section 4056 which states:
- The court shall state, in writing or on the record, the following information whenever the court is ordering an amount for support that differs from the statewide uniform guideline formula amount under this article: the amount of support that would have been ordered under the guideline formula, the reasons the amount of support ordered differs from the guideline formula amount, and the reasons the amount of support ordered is consistent with the best interests of the children.
- At the request of any party, the court shall state in writing or on the record the following information used in determining the guideline amount under this article: the net monthly disposable income of each parent, the actual federal income tax filing status of each parent (for example, single, married, married filing separately, or head of household and number of exemptions, deductions from gross income for each parent, the approximate percentage of time pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 4055 that each parent has primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent.
As long as the court sets forth on the record (in open court in the presence of the parties) what the Guideline Child Support would be and the basis for the deviation from Guideline, then the court can make a non-Guideline order, provided that it states the findings for which the order is made. An example when this deviation may be appropriate is that, after the payment of Guideline Child Support, the payer of child support is unable to provide for the basic needs of the child while they are exercising their custodial time with the child.
When Can the Court Deviate from a Guideline Child Support Order?
While, the amount of child support established by the Guideline Child Support Calculator is presumed to be the correct amount, the presumption of subdivision (a) is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof and may be rebutted by admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case because one or more of the following factors is found to be applicable:
- The parties have stipulated to a different amount of child support under subdivision (a) of Section 4065.
- The sale of the family residence is deferred pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 3800 of Part 1) and the rental value of the family residence in which the children reside exceeds the mortgage payments, homeowner's insurance, and property taxes. The amount of any adjustment pursuant to this paragraph shall not be greater than the excess amount.
- The parent being ordered to pay child support has an extraordinarily high income and the amount determined under the formula would exceed the needs of the children.
- A party is not contributing to the needs of the children at a level commensurate with that party's custodial time.
- Application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances in the particular case, such as cases in which the parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, cases in which both parents have substantially equal time-sharing of the children and one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income used for housing than the other parent, and cases in which the children have special medical or other needs that could require child support that would be greater than the formula amount.
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