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Can courts deviate from the child support guidelines?

Parents in New York must care and provide for their children while they are minors. Some continue to provide for them after that age, but that is by their own choice rather than a legal obligation. As parents know, this obligation to care for their children can also be costly. Buying food, providing them with a home, buying clothes and other necessities can add up quickly. Then there are also medical costs, child care costs, extracurricular activities and other costs.

As these expenses can add up quickly, it is important that both parents contribute to these financial costs. Ensuring this happens during a marriage or while the parents are together can be a relatively easy task. However, it can be become much more difficult if the parents are divorced or no longer together. So, to ensure that it still happens, there are usually child support orders in place. These orders generally require the non-custodial parent to pay the custodial parent money each month based on guidelines.

These guidelines require that the parent pay a percentage of the parent's combined income. The percentage is based on how many children the couple has together. However, in certain situations the judge can deviate from the guidelines and order either a higher or lower amount. The judge will look at factors such as extra costs for education; whether one parent has to incur extra expenses for visitation; and other financial considerations that make ordering the guideline amount inappropriate.

There are many parents in New York who are either divorced or never married to the other parent. This does not make one of the parents any less of a parent though and each parent must continue to contribute to raising the child. So, generally one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other. While the initial determination is based on fairly rigid guidelines, judges can deviate from those guidelines. Experienced attorneys understand the child support laws and may be a useful resource.

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