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Why File a Motion to Deviate From Child Support Guidelines?

Child support is meant to help provide for your child, but payments can put a significant strain on your finances — especially if you are facing new hardships.

While the amount you pay is often determined by a formula in the Texas child support guidelines, a motion to deviate from child support guidelines may be appropriate in certain circumstances.

Learn more about how a child support case works and what you can do to protect your personal interests – while still providing financial care for your child.

How Child Support Is Calculated in Texas

If you are divorced and your child primarily lives with their other parent, you will most likely be ordered to pay child support. The court determines the amount of child support to be paid by consulting a formula that considers your and your ex’s gross income, your child’s age, other children you provide for, and other circumstances of your case.

The amount produced by the formula is a presumptive amount in Texas. This means the court presumes that this amount is appropriate to care for the child’s best interests. This presumption is debatable, though.

A different amount may be ordered if either party files a motion to deviate from child support guidelines and shows that this new amount is in the child’s best interests.

Reasons to File a Motion to Deviate

Either you or your ex can file a motion to deviate from the guidelines if you believe the amount called for by the guidelines is not appropriate to support your child.

No matter who files the motion, that person has the burden of proof to show that another amount is in the child’s best interests and better provides for their needs. Some reasons why a motion to deviate should be filed include the following.

Child with Unique Health Needs

A child who has special medical or mental health needs may require additional support beyond what the child support guidelines suggest.

For example, your child may require routine visits to a specialist where treatment is provided at a significant cost. Even if you have health insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses for extraordinary medical care may require more financial resources than the parent’s income allows.

Anticipated Significant Reduction in Income

Conversely, a court may consider deviating from the child support guidelines and ordering a smaller child support amount if one parent anticipates a significant and permanent reduction in income. The guidelines take into account each spouse’s current earnings and income, but a court can consider future circumstances.

For example, suppose one parent was recently informed of a future income reduction at work. Documented evidence of this decrease should be relayed to the court as soon as possible. The court may take this circumstance into account when deciding what child support amount is appropriate.

Unusual Necessary Expenses

If the parent being ordered to pay child support has newly necessary living expenses that are exceptionally high, the court may consider this fact when setting child support.

Such expenses must be necessary, which means that the person cannot suddenly enter into a lavish lifestyle with unusual new expenses and expect the court to reduce their child support obligation because of this change.

When to File a Motion to Deviate From Child Support Guidelines

We recommend filing a motion to deviate before the court enters any final child support orders, including the scheduled child support payments. If this is not possible, you should file your motion to deviate as soon as possible. 

Waiting to file a motion to deviate may suggest to the court that your new hardships are less serious than you claim. A proactive approach allows the court to consider your circumstances in conjunction with the overall determination of child support rather than as a separate or subsequent legal matter.

If circumstances prevent you from filing the motion before final orders are made, it is crucial to file the motion to deviate as quickly as possible thereafter. Delaying the filing can be disadvantageous. If you wait too long to claim a need for deviation because of a change in circumstances or hardships, the court might perceive these claims skeptically.

In legal proceedings, especially concerning child support in Texas, demonstrating urgency and immediacy in response to changing circumstances can help influence the court’s decision-making process and potentially create a more favorable outcome.

Find Help With Your Texas Child Support Modifications

Navigating child support can be a complex task in Texas. If you have additional questions about a motion to deviate from child support guidelines, the local team of family law attorneys at Parker & Aguilar can help.

We will listen to your situation, evaluate the unique details of your case, and help determine the best path forward. Throughout the process, we will defend your rights and those of your children.

We represent clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our Angleton office at 979-267-7660 or our Sugar Land office at 281-944-5485 to speak with one of our experienced and dedicated child support attorneys today. We look forward to supporting your case.