- While FSA was designed to make child support awards consistent based on certain criteria (income, number of children), policymakers also recognized that individual circumstances might require a departure from the guidelines. While presumptive, the guidelines should be rebuttable and documented.
- It was up to states to determine the determine the conditions that deviations would be allowed. There are at least 40 deviation factors used by states. In general, deviations do refer health insurance, extraordinary medical expenses, shared custody or extraordinary visitation, joint custody and other children for which support is being paid.
- However, deviations were supposed to be limited.
- There was also a federal requirement that the Court needed to document findings needed for such a departure: Applicability and required findings.
- The grounds for deviations in Georgia are defined in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i). General principles are defined in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(1). Twelve specific deviations are defined in O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(i)(2).
- Here is a great general article about deviations.
- Here is the link to find the factors for deviations by states.
- The Georgia Child Support Commission publishes its report every four years which contains the number of deviations in its sample data. Here is a summary of the last three economic studies.
- Process for requesting a deviation is both challenging and time-consuming. First, you must specifically request a deviation as part of your court proceedings in order for the Court to consider it. The burden is on the party making the deviation to convince the Court that the deviation is in the best interests of the child.
- There is no data on the number of times that deviations have been requested but not approved by the Court.
- In my personal experience, attorneys have not mentioned deviations. I am not sure whether it was because they thought it wouldn’t be approved or they didn’t think about it.
- The deviation rate reached 44% in the 2018 Case Sampling Data. While there is no absolute threshold for deviations, higher guidelines deviations would indicate issues with the guidelines themselves.