How To Decrease Child Support
As a rule, courts are required to adhere to the guideline formula. Only under certain circumstances are courts given discretion to deviate from the formula and order child support different from the figure calculated. In order to rebut the presumption of correctness in favor of the formula, your family law attorney must present admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case.
Stipulation of Support
Parents are allowed to agree and stipulate on an amount of child support different from that calculated by the Guideline formula. Courts may approve these kinds of stipulations so long as the parties declare in the stipulation that:
- They are fully informed of their rights concerning child support
- They agree to the order without coercion or duress
- The agreement is in the children’s best interest
- The children’s needs will be adequately met by the stipulated amount; and
- The right to support has not been assigned to the county, and no application for public assistance is pending
While the stipulation can provide for child support lower than the Guideline, if a parent wants to modify child support in the future they don’t have to prove changed circumstances.
Deferred Sale of Home
The court is allowed to adjust a presumed child support figure when a sale of the family home in which the children reside has been deferred by court order and its rental value exceeds the mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. However, the amount of adjustment must not exceed the difference between the rental value and mortgage, insurance, and taxes.
Extraordinary High-Income Payor
The formula for child support may exceed the children’s needs if the income of the paying parent is extraordinarily high. In this case, the court may adjust the presumed child support and use its discretion.
The definition of reasonable needs for a child depends on the parents’ circumstances and station in life. The duty of a parent to support a child covers more than the mere necessities of life if the parent can afford to pay more. If the supporting parent lives a lavish and opulent lifestyle, the child has a right to enjoy, to an extent, the same kind of lifestyle. This is despite the fact that increasing child support would mean an increase of benefit for the custodial parent.
The law does not provide a strict definition of what may constitute an extraordinary high income. Courts have discretion in determining whether or not a parent’s income can be considered as such. The common practice of courts is to look at a parent’s income in its context, such as the wealth of the parent in relation to their community at large, and the relative wealth of their counties in making the determination.
When a parent invokes the high-income exception, he or she must prove that:
- Application of the formula would be unjust and inappropriate; and
- A lower award would be consistent with the child’s best interest.
Disparity Between Support and Custodial Time
This subsection allows the paying parent to claim that the custodial parent is not appropriately spending the support money on the children. In this case, the court may adjust a presumed child support figure when a parent fails to contribute to the children’s need at a level commensurate with the parent’s custodial time.
Special Circumstances Render Formula Unjust or Inappropriate.
The courts have broad discretion in determining when special circumstances might justify a departure from the Guideline formula. The list provided by law and jurisprudence is not exclusive. The following have been found to be special circumstances:
- Substantial wealth
- Low income
- High consumer debt
- Support of stepchildren
- Adult child attending college
These special circumstances may also include cases where:
- The parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children
- Both parents have substantially equal time-sharing of the children, but one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income used for housing than the other parent.
- The children have special medical or other needs that could require child support that would be greater than the formula amount
- A child is found to have more than two parents