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Can a Texas Court Deviate from Child Support Guidelines?

Every parent knows that raising a child is expensive. From life’s basic necessities and educational expenses to medical and leisure expenses, it takes a small fortune to raise a child and give him or her a good quality of life these days.

This doesn’t change when a child’s parents file for divorce, although it does complicate things. While both parents are still financially responsible for raising the child, the custodial parent’s financial support will come in the form of caring for the child every day. The noncustodial parent’s financial responsibility, on the other hand, is to pay child support. Our Texas child support lawyer, Daniella Lyttle can help.

Under the Texas Family Code, child support payments are calculated using statutory child support guidelines. This means the court will assume these guidelines to be in the best interest of the child. But there are instances when the court may find it necessary to deviate from these child support guidelines.

Although uncommon, the court may consider other reasons outside the boundaries of the Family Code’s child support guidelines. These factors, found under section §154.123 of the Texas Family Code, include:

  1. The age and needs of the child
  2. The ability of each parent to contribute financially in raising the child
  3. Each parent’s available financial resources for the support of the child
  4. The amount of time the child spends with the custodial parent and the parent paying child support
  5. The obligee parent's net resources, including earning potential, should his or her actual income be less than what he or she could potentially earn. This is to protect the obligor parent from the obligee’s intentional underemployment or unemployment.
  6. The total amount of child care expenses incurred by each parent
  7. Whether either parent is caring for another child
  8. The amount of spousal maintenance paid and received by either parent
  9. Expenses for college education
  10. Compensation for either parent in the form of a car, housing, or other work benefits
  11. Amount of wage/salary deductions
  12. The cost of health insurance and uninsured medical expenses
  13. The cost of special education and healthcare needs of the child
  14. The cost of travel to exercise possession of and access to a child
  15. The positive or negative cash flow from real or personal property, including investments and business
  16. Outstanding debt assumed by either parent
  17. Any other reason that requires deviating from child support guidelines to serve the best interest of the child

It is also important to note that both parents can agree, on their own, to deviate from the child support guidelines found in the Texas Family Code. This is common when the divorce enters mediation.

In Summary

Although unusual, the court can exercise its discretion to deviate from the Family Code’s child support guidelines. At any rate, these factors only prove that calculating child support is not as cut and dry a process as may appear. Ultimately, the court can and will do what it thinks is necessary to protect the best interest of the child.

For parents who feel their circumstances warrant a deviation from Texas child support guidelines, it is important to talk to a Texas child support attorney to evaluate your situation and determine what steps to take. If you would like to have a better understanding of each factor you can use as justification to deviate from statutory guidelines, we encourage you to get in touch with Texas family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation.

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