The court upon its own motion or upon motion of a party may deviate from the guidelines if, after hearing evidence and making findings regarding the reasonable needs of the child for support and the relative ability of each parent to provide support, it finds by the greater weight of the evidence that application of the guidelines would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support, or would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate. If the court deviates from the guidelines, the court must make written findings (1) stating the amount of the supporting parent’s presumptive child support obligation determined pursuant to these guidelines; (2) determining the reasonable needs of the child and the relative ability of each parent to provide support; (3) supporting the court’s conclusion that the presumptive amount of child support determined under the guidelines is inadequate or excessive or that application of the guidelines is otherwise unjust or inappropriate; and (4) stating the basis on which the court determined the amount of child support ordered. (One example of a reason to deviate may be when one parent pays 100% of the child support obligation and 100% of the insurance premium.)
The guidelines are intended to provide adequate awards of child support that are equitable to the child and both of the child’s parents. When the court does not deviate from the guidelines, an order for child support in an amount determined pursuant to the guidelines is conclusively presumed to meet the reasonable needs of a child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support, and specific findings regarding a child’s reasonable needs or the relative ability of each parent to provide support are therefore not required. Regardless of whether the court deviates from the guidelines or enters a child support order pursuant to the guidelines, the court should consider incorporating in, or attaching to, its order, or including in the case file, the child support worksheet it uses to determine the supporting parent’s presumptive child support obligation under the guidelines.