hild support assessments are usually made by the Child Support Agency, based on the standard child support formula. However, some families may have more complex situations that don’t fit within the child support formula.
If a family with a complex child support situation has other family law matters before the Court, they can ask the Court to make a child support departure order. These are orders that depart from the standard formula, and create alternative obligations for the payer of child support.
The law relating to departure orders is quite complex and specific, and it only allows for a departure order to be made if particular circumstances exist. Those circumstances include:
- That a parent’s ability to provide financial support for a child is significantly reduced, because of one of a number of specific factors, such as the duty to support another person, the costs of self support or the high costs involved in spending time with another child;
- That there are unusually high costs of financially supporting the child, because of high costs of spending time with the child, special needs of the child, or high child care or education costs of the child;
- That applying the standard formula would be unfair, because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of the child or either parent, or because of the outcome of a property settlement.
If a Court finds that one or more of the above circumstances exist, the Court must then go on to consider a range of other important issues and factors, which are also set out in the law that governs departure orders. Some of these may include:
- Using a prescribed formula to determine whether the costs of spending time with a child qualify as “high costs”;
- Making a finding about whether the parties had agreed to pay high child care or education costs (for example, private schooling) before separation;
- Hardship that may be caused to the child or either parent by either making or refusing to make a departure order.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?