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Can a court deviate from the standard child support formula?

Despite there being a standard formula for calculating child support in Washington, all families are unique and some life circumstances must be accounted for. That is why Washington Statutes allow for a deviation from the standard child support formula in certain circumstances.

In some cases, a deviation may be based on the parents' income. This includes the income provided by a new spouse or other adult in the household, as long as the parent asking for a deviation is doing so on some other basis as well. The court may also consider any child support being received from a different relationship and any prizes or gifts bestowed on the parents. The wealth possessed by the parents and any extraordinary income of the child may also be considered. Finally, a deviation for tax planning purposes may be considered in some circumstances.

Another reason the court may allow a deviation is if a parent's income is not recurring. Some examples of nonrecurring income include earnings made from a second job, or overtime earnings.

In addition, the court may allow a deviation if the parent involuntarily incurred an extraordinary debt. In addition, a deviation may be allowed if, because of circumstances beyond their control, there is a significant disparity in each parent's costs of living. A deviation may also be allowed if the child is disabled and has special needs, or if a nondisabled child has special psychological, educational or medical needs.

Also, if the parent paying child support spends a significant amount of time with the child, then a deviation may be appropriate. However, a deviation on this basis cannot be made if it would mean that the parent receiving support would be unable to provide for the child's basic needs.

Finally, in some circumstances a deviation may be allowed if a parent has a child from another relationship that he or she is paying support for. A deviation on this basis will be based on the totality of the circumstances of each household.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons a court may deviate from the standard child support formula. This means determining child support is not always as easy as it may seem. Therefore, parents who want more information on how much they will be paying or receiving in child support may want to seek legal advice.

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