Although child support is frequently one of the most difficult divorce related issues to resolve, agreements concerning this issue have been made easier in recent years by the adoption of child support guidelines by every State. These guidelines are intended to standardize child support payments so that similarly situated payors pay approximately the same amount in child support. In the simplest cases, determining the amount of child support to be paid is simply a matter of plugging numbers into a statutory formula.
Sometimes however, the strict application of the guideline child support figure is inequitable due to special or extraordinary circumstances associated with a particular case. Every State recognizes that such special circumstances may be applicable. Some of the special circumstances which may be applied in a case include shared physical custody, unusually high or low income of either party, unusual expenses associated with visitation, or unusual expenses associated with raising a special needs child, among others.
Dealing with this emotionally charged issue can sometimes derail otherwise productive divorce settlement negotiations. To make the issue more manageable, we provide a child support resource page for each State. Use these resources to gain a better understanding of the child support scheme imposed by law in your jurisdiction. Determine what the basic child support obligation is, and determine whether any special circumstances apply to your situation. With a good understanding of the legal framework in your State, the issue should be easier to resolve.
As with any other issue, child support disputes may be successfully mediated. In some cases the parties may “agree to disagree” and file a final stipulation or agreement which informs the court that the parties have reached an agreement on all issues except child support. The court will schedule a brief and usually informal hearing to decide the issue.