Can the Court Deviate from Child Support Guidelines?

The Florida Statutes allow a trial court to deviate upwards or downwards from the child support guidelines. In my experience, this is generally the exception and not the norm when it comes to an award of child support. The statutes provide that a court may deviate from the child support guidelines plus or minus 5 percent after considering all the relevant factors. The relevant factors include, but are not limited to, the needs of the child, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and the financial ability of each parent. In general the court does not have to include written findings if it only deviates plus or minus 5 percent of the guidelines. In rare circumstances, the court does have the ability to deviate more than 5 percent from the guideline child support amount but it must make explicit written findings explaining why ordering the guideline child support amount would be unjust or inappropriate.

In a recent case from the Second District Court of Appeals, the trial court entered an order increasing the Former Husband’s child support amount by 10%. In Cash v. Cash, the trial court included two upward deviations from child support stating that the court shall deviate from the child support guidelines by the 5% permitted without extraordinary circumstances and shall further deviate by requiring an additional 5% as a result of the Former Husband’s limited timesharing with the children. The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion by increasing the Former Husband’s child support by 10%.

The calculation of child support can be a complicated formula. It is recommended that you contact your expert family law attorney to answer any questions you may have regarding calculation of your child support obligation.

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