Special Cases: Deviating From Child Support Guidelines

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Last week we talked about some of the statutory guidelines that the State of Mississippi uses to determine how much child support payments should be. Whether you are receiving child support payments or you’re the one paying for child support, you should take a look at the guidelines. They will give you a good idea on the subject, however, child support payments can be adjusted over time based on a material change in circumstances for the child or the non-custodial parent.

If you think you’re paying too much, or not receiving sufficient child support for your child, keep reading as we cover some of the basics of modifying child support payments.

Yes, child support payments can be adjusted.

The guidelines for child support payments are just that – guidelines. They are presumed to be proper, but they can often be changed if you can prove to the court that the amount is inappropriate. There are several different factors that the court will examine to decide whether or not the amount of child support should be changed. Just like the guidelines, these factors are written into Mississippi law. You can find them at § 43-19-103 of the Mississippi Code.

Here’s a simplified list of the some of the more common reasons for modifying child support payments:

Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses

Sometimes a child may have a serious illness, need psychological treatments, or need to attend a special school to reach his or her full potential. Since child support is determined “in the best interests of the child,” the court will sometimes adjust the amount of child support payments to meet these extraordinary expenses.

Independent income of the child

As children grow older, he or she may become financially independent and not rely on the support of either the custodial or noncustodial parent. Child support obligations may need to be adjusted to account for this.

The payment of both child support and spousal support to one party

Through divorce proceedings, the court may order or one party may agree to pay support of their former spouse and support for children. Paying both of these can become financially impossible for the person paying. If you can convince the court that you are paying too much, the court may reduce your child support payments to lessen your financial burden.

Seasonal changes in the amount of both parent’s income

Plenty of people will see the amount of money they make alter throughout the year. Maybe one parent works in landscaping, and makes far more money during the summers than winter. It may be inequitable to make that person pay child support payments that reflect high-paying summer months, when money is tight during the winter. Likewise, you shouldn’t have to pinch pennies with small payments when the paying parent is making far more money during other parts of the year. Again, if convinced, the court may modify the amount of child support to match your specific situation.

Special shared parental arrangements or the refusal of the paying parent to be involved in the life of the child

This factor can sound a little confusing at first, but it’s fairly straightforward. An example of a special shared parental arrangement may be a situation where the paying parent spends more time than usual with the child. For example, if the paying parent takes care of the child for half of the week, he or she is likely spending a lot of money looking after the child. Because of this, it may not be fair for that parent to pay as much child support as the guidelines may recommend. On the other hand, if the paying parent doesn’t help at all with the child, that parent should probably pay more since they aren’t contributing as much to non-monetary childcare.

Wrapping up

These are just a few of the many factors that Mississippi courts consider when deciding whether to modify child support payments. If you think you’re paying too much child support or are not receiving enough, you should speak to an experienced attorney who can help you navigate these sorts of issues.
Get in touch

Attorney Vangela M. Wade has over 18 years of legal experience representing countless clients navigating a variety of difficult situations. As one of Metro Jackson and Central Mississippi’s best family law attorneys, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC is ready to answer your questions about child support or other legal areas where you may have questions.

Give us a call at 601.790.0043 or contact us online to discuss your legal matters in a confidential, affordable consultation.

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