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Your child support is far in excess of real child costs. In most cases, you, the non-custodial parent (NCP), are paying all costs and the custodial parent (CP), none.

You can easily lower your child support significantly at our next legal opportunity by asking for a deviation in consideration of the many tax benefits the custodial parent gets that already cover many child costs. This has been awarded any time the argument has been reasonably presented.

[I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Use a lawyer and economics or financial expert for your case.] The custodial parent may be getting any or all of the following tax reductions:

  1. Head of Household tax status. (Only if the CP is single.)
  2. Dependency exemption for the child.
  3. Child tax credit. (Child is 17 or younger on December 31 of the tax year.)
  4. Child care tax credit. (To cover day care, provided through age 13.)

These can easily add up to $300 to $600 a month. Get a tax accountant to calculate the exact amount the CP gets in your case. It is child support (or child costs) the government already pays, so there is no reason for you to. No state formula accounts for this and it should come off your child support in proportion to what the formula calculates as your share of child costs.

In an Income Shares state, this does not come off dollar for dollar. It should be subtracted from the presumed total child costs to be covered by both parents, which is split between you according to the formula.

Every state's child support guideline law is required to list reasons a judge may vary (deviate from) the presumptive award. Deviations are commonly used to raise child support, as the list will include special child needs and imputing income. However, the list will also include having to support other children, the CP's income and financial status, travel, and a catch-all, "Any other factor which the trier of fact deems to be required by the ends of justice." Examine your state's legislation.

The main reason reductions are not common is lazy lawyers. R. Mark Rogers of Guideline Economics( ), who has acted as an expert witness for such cases for over seven years, says that judges have always proved receptive to reasonable arguments. The trouble is lawyers not wanting to challenge their perception of their own establishment. Most just don't bother, even though variances can reduce your child support by hundreds of dollars a month.

The two deviations that net the largest savings and bring child support more in line with reason, are for the CP's tax benefits, and parenting time. No currently used formula accounts for these.

But that's the first step. Most of these laws claim to already factor for everything. Write to the state agency and ask for the proof that it is. You can insist on this information. Have an expert examine whatever they send, as his or her first job will be to show that whatever they did does not do the job, opening the door for a deviation.

Second, have the exact numbers to use, and credible evidence for them. That's what an expert witness does. For tax benefits, an accountant should suffice. For parenting time, find an economist or actuary.

Pursuing the application of reason to your case is not only worthwhile for the many dollars at stake for you. The more judges alter presumptive awards, the more pressure on the legislature and agency to correct the basic formula.

The above is from "Male Nurturing," "The Multiple Scandals of Child Support" and other e-books on family and men's issues, by K.C. Wilson. Copyright (c) 2001 Harbinger Press. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved.

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