When Can Child Support Deviate from the Calculated Amount?
Child support may seem like an easy step in a divorce and one where there is little room for negotiation. Massachusetts law provides child support guidelines that are used when calculating child support. The guidelines primarily take into consideration the income of each parent as well as the custody arrangement for the child when calculating basic child support. A judge does have the ability to deviate from the basic support calculation, however, in light of special circumstances.
Basic child support can be calculated by filling out the child support guidelines worksheet. The worksheet takes the income of each spouse and deducts approved expenses, such as the cost of childcare, insurance, and other support obligations. This results in an available income figure for each parent. The basic child support amount will be based off of these figures. If a judge finds that the basic support amount is insufficient or inappropriate given the circumstances, he or she may deviate from that amount. It is important to note that a judge will only deviate from the basic calculation if the original amount does not serve the best interests of the child or children. For example, if the child has significant uninsured medical expenses, extra child support may be added to ensure these expenses are covered. Or, in the case with very high-income parents, if the original calculation is unreasonably high considering the child’s needs and his or her standard of living, the judge may deviate down from the basic calculation.
If you are calculating your child support amount and feel your specific circumstances may warrant a deviation, speak with an experienced divorce mediator about your case. While the state guidelines will do most of the calculating for you, a mediator can help you understand your options for obtaining a deviation if it would be in your child’s best interests.
If there has been a significant change in circumstances, you can request a child support modification, which may be higher or lower than the original calculation. If a deviation cannot be obtained, you may be able to work out an agreement with your spouse in mediation regarding any extra costs that need to be covered.
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about calculating child support, Mediation Advantage Services can help you.
Polly A. Tatum is experienced in divorce mediation and can help you successfully handle your child support issues through guided and non-adversarial mediation, sparing you and your children the stress of litigation. Based in historic Worcester, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 795-1557, fill out our online form, or email us at [email protected] today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free guide for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.