Must you have a court ordered parenting plan in order to receive a downward deviation from the standard child support guidelines? Yes. The statute provides that a court may deviate downward on your child support obligation if you have more than 20 percent of the overnights in a given year. Unfortunately, the court cannot deviate from child support guidelines based upon a time sharing schedule unless there is a court ordered parenting plan. An oral agreement for time sharing will not be sufficient. Additionally, even a written, signed, notarized time sharing agreement will not be sufficient. It must be ratified by a court order. A recent Second District Court case dealt with this issue.
In Department of Revenue v. Ramirez, the department of review sought to establish child support for the Father, Mr. Ramirez. At the hearing, the parties introduced a written, signed, and notarized visitation agreement that was not court ordered. The administrative judge gave the Father a downward deviation from the standard child support guidelines based upon the time sharing schedule. The Department of Revenue appealed. The appellate court sided with the Department of Revenue and reversed the administrative judge’s ruling. The appellate court held that “the Legislature has expressed its intent to authorize deviations from the child support guidelines only where there exists a written, court-authorized parenting-plan”. This seems like a very unfair ruling. In order to avoid a ruling of this nature, contact your expert family law attorney who can help you get a court approved parenting plan.