Answer: Child support guidelines allow for specific deviations for a number of reasons, but none of those reasons are more pressing than extraordinary expenses for special needs children. Statistics show that divorce rates are particularly high for families with children with special needs, and oftentimes the most pressing factor are those financial needs.
Those financial needs are often the reason that the parties are before the court. So, the court has a delicate work in front of it to try to craft a child support number that goes beyond the formula and accounts for, with non-specific and specific deviation. Again, here these are specific deviations; hopefully we are able to vet the expenses, prove the expenses and show the court why they are both reasonable and necessary expenditures. So, we have the burden of proof to show those expenses, that they are regular expenses, and show them to the court so that they may be considered and prorated, both based upon the income of the parties and then averaged out on a month-to-month basis to try to allot for them in regular child support payments based upon the party that’s paying those expenses.
The court understands that there are finite resources in a marriage, and that often the financial burdens are the reason that the parties are getting divorced. So, it’s a balancing act for the court. The court has to meet the needs of the children while allotting for the needs of the parties moving forward and setting up separate households. We don’t take any expense for granted and it’s our burden, often, to prove the reasonableness and the necessity of these expenses. So, we look to each and every expense that we can anticipate that’s actually being paid at this time and we present them to the court and try to incorporate them into any child support guideline so that it’s enough for both parties to live on without impairing the other party’s ability to present and take care of the needs of the children on a day-to-day basis when they have the children.
We understand, and the court will understand, that the needs of special needs children in particular are going to be fluid; they’re going to change over time, and the parties do possess the ability to seek a modification from the court when those changes occur. But, we can do our best at the outset of the process to incorporate the expenses, as they exist right now, into that child support guideline and present good and competent evidence to the court as to the reasonableness and necessity of those needs. So, we’re going to argue each piece of evidence, and we are going to present those needs so we can account to the fullest extent of the law, both now and in to the years to come, for the needs of these children.