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When Can Florida Courts Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines?

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The state of Florida has established official guidelines for calculating child support payments. These guidelines are meant to establish a baseline for a child support award. As such, there is a general presumption that the guidelines will produce a figure that is fair to both parents and to the children. However, these guidelines are by no means set in stone. Through filing a motion to deviate from child support guidelines, a petitioner may be able to get a child support award altered. Indeed, depending on the facts of the case, child support payments may either be increased or decreased by the court. Here, our Orlando child support attorney discusses the standard that courts use when deciding whether or not to adjust child support payments.

Acceptable Reasons to the Deviate from the Guidelines

Getting Child Support Obligations Decreased

Florida courts explicitly acknowledge that the following three reasons can potentially provide good cause to get your child support obligations decreased:

  1. Your child or receiving parent has access to additional income that has not been properly accounted for using the standard guidelines;
  2. You have additional required necessary living expenses that make you unable to pay the amount the guidelines suggest; or
  3. Due to the parenting plan, you are spending a larger amount of your time and money on the child than is usually expected.

Getting Child Support Payments Increased

Florida courts also acknowledge that the following three reasons may provide an acceptable justification to get child support payments increased:

  1. The child has extraordinary medical, dental or educational expenses;
  2. The child has a physical or mental disability that results in additional expenses; or
  3. The parent paying the child support has unusual finances, and as a result, the normal guidelines are not properly taking into account their ability to pay.

To be clear, while these are the most common reasons that the child support guidelines are not followed, they are not the only reasons. In fact, theoretically, you may petition the court with any reason as to why your case is unique. Ultimately, the court will have to assess whether or not the reason provided amounts to good cause to seek a child support modification. However, if your reason provided is not amongst those that is already listed, be aware that the court will look upon it with far more suspicion. If you are seeking to get a child support award altered from the standard guidelines, whether you are trying to get it increased or decreased, you should always work with an experienced attorney.

Contact Our Orlando Office

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our compassionate child support lawyers can help protect your legal rights. If you are considering bringing a child support adjustment claim in a Florida family law court, please contact our team today to set up your fully confidential legal consultation. From our office in Orlando, we proudly represent families throughout the Central Florida, including in Winter Park, Lake Buena Vista, Winter Garden, Apopka and Maitland.

Resources:

flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/533/urlt/943.pdf

flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/293/urlt/902e.pdf

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