Child Support Guidelines for the High Income Parent(s)
The following table gives a brief description of how each jurisdiction in the United States establishes the guideline support amount in high income cases.
Note that in all of these jurisdictions, after determining the guideline amount (if any), the court must then consider whether to deviate from that amount. The trial courts frequently deviate from the guidelines in high income cases, and appellate courts have not hesitated to reverse trial court decisions which compute support in a mechanical rather than discretionary manner.
(1) Alabama: Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration, Rule 32(C)(1): "The court may use its discretion in determining child support in circumstances where combined adjusted gross income is below the lowermost levels or exceeds the uppermost levels of the schedule." Applied in Posey v. Posey, 634 So. 2d 571 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994); Boykin v. Boykin, 628 So. 2d 949 (Ala. Civ. App. 1993); Anonymous v. Anonymous, 617 So. 2d 694 (Ala. Civ. App. 1993); Cox v. Cox, 591 So. 2d 90 (Ala. Civ. App. 1991).
(2) Alaska: Alaska Rules of Court, Civil Rule 90.3(c)(2): for income over $60,000, court will presume that support at $60,000 level is correct, and may make an additional award only if it is just and proper. Applied in Farrell v. Farrell, 819 P.2d 896 (Alaska 1991); Coats v. Finn, 779 P.2d 775 (Alaska 1989).
(3) Arizona: Arizona Child Support Guidelines, adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court, pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 25-320: makes no provision for high income parents. Applied in Elliott v. Elliott, 165 Ariz. 138, 796 P.2d 930 (Ct. App. 1990) (court stated that lower court is to "apply the guidelines," but did not state how that was to be accomplished, i.e., by applying a presumptive amount, a presumptive percentage, or straight-line extrapolation; in any case, the trial court has, the appellate court noted, the discretion to deviate based on the factors contained in the statute).
(4) Arkansas: In re Guidelines for Child Support, ___ Ark. ___, 863 S.W.2d 291 (1993), pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-312(a): provides that when payorís income exceeds that shown on chart, the court shall disregard the chart and apply the following percentages to the payorís income: 13% for one child; 22% for two children; 32% for three children; 42% for four children; 52% for five children. The court may vary the amount calculated on specific findings.
(5) California: Cal. Fam. Code 4057(b)(3): the extraordinarily high income of the obligor parent may constitute cause to deviate from application of the formula contained in 4055. Applied in Estevez v. Superior Court, 22 Cal. App. 4th 423, 27 Cal. Rptr. 2d 470 (1994); White v. Marciano, 190 Cal. App. 3d 1026, 235 Cal. Rptr. 779 (1987).
(6) Colorado: Colo. Rev. Stat. 14-10-15: "For cases with higher combined monthly adjusted gross income, child support should be determined on a case-by-case basis." Nevertheless, in In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo. Ct. App. 1990); In re Marriage of Schwaab & Rollins, 794 P.2d 1112 (Colo. Ct. App. 1990); and In re Marriage of Inwegen, 757 P.2d 1118 (Colo. Ct. App. 1988), the court adopted a presumption that the maximum amount provided in the guidelines is correct, but that the court should deviate upward where circumstances so warrant.
(7) Connecticut: Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, effective 1994: in cases of high income, the highest amount provided for in the guidelines shall be a floor, and the court may deviate upward from that amount. Overrules prior law stated in Battersby v. Battersby, 218 Conn. 467, 590 A.2d 427 (1991), whereby the court was to disregard the guidelines, and use its discretion on a case-by-case basis.
(8) Delaware: Delaware Family Court Civil Rules, Rule 52: a basic amount plus a particular percentage shall be applied. Applied in Ford v. Ford, 600 A.2d 25, 30 (Del. 1991) (child support cannot exceed reasonable needs of child in cases of high income).
(9) Washington D.C.: D.C. Code Ann. 16-916.1(f): "The guideline percentage shall not apply presumptively to a noncustodial parent with income that exceeds $75,000. The amount available to a child of a noncustodial parent with income above $75,000 shall not be less than the amount that would have been ordered if the guideline had been applied to a noncustodial parent with income of $75,000." Applied in Galbis v. Nadal, 626 A.2d 26 (D.C. 1993).
(10) Florida: Florida Civil Practice and Procedure Rules, Rule 61.30: In cases of combined income over $108,000 per year, court is to presume that maximum guidelines amount is minimum support obligation, but court may deviate. Applied in Torres v. Hunter, 592 So. 2d 757 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992); Weinstein v. Steele, 590 So. 2d 1005 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991); Zak v. Zak, 629 So. 2d 187 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1993).
(11) Georgia: Ga. Code Ann. 19-6-15(c)(11): a particular percentage is to apply, but court may deviate downward in cases of extremely high income, which shall be construed as gross income over $75,000 per year.
(12) Hawaii: Hawaii Child Support Guidelines found in Hawaii Divorce Manual, Vol. II, Section 13: apply formula contained in guidelines for incomes greater than $10,249 per month, but court may deviate where circumstances so require. Applied in Richardson v. Richard son, 8 Haw. App. 446, 808 P.2d 1279 (1991).
(13) Idaho: Idaho Child Support Guidelines Section (c): "For combined gross income above $70,000, the Guidelines make no recommendations. . . . [T]he amounts of child support need to be determined on a case-by-case basis."
(14) Illinois: 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/550 (formerly Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 40, 505): applies a set percentage to the noncustodial parentís income, but the court may deviate downward. Applied in In re Marriage of Lee, 246 Ill. App. 3d 628, 615 N.E.2d 1314 (1993).
(15) Indiana: Indiana Rules of Court, Guideline 2: "The Guidelines provide calculated amounts of child support to a combined weekly available income level of $2,000 ($104,000 per year). For cases with higher combined weekly available income, child support should be determined as the parties negotiate or as the court orders within the mathematical progression of the Guidelines."
(16) Iowa: Iowa Code Ann. 598.21(4): "The amount of support payable by a non-custodial parent with a monthly net income of $3,001 or more shall be no less than the dollar amount as provided for in the guidelines for a non-custodial parent with a monthly net income of $3,000." Applied in In re LaLone, 469 N.W.2d 695 (Iowa 1991).
(17) Kansas: Kansas Court Rules Ann., Rule 58, IV(C): "If the combined child support income exceeds the highest amount shown on the schedules, the court should exercise its discretion by considering what amount of child support should be set in addition to the amount on the child support schedule."
(18) Kentucky: Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 403.212: an appropriate deviation from the guidelines may be made when "(5) combined parental income [is] in excess of the Kentucky child support guideline [$10,000 per month]."
(19) Louisiana: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 9:315.10(B): "If the combined adjusted gross income of the parties exceeds the highest level specified in the schedule contained in R.S. 9:315.14, the court shall use its discretion in setting the amount of the basic child support obligation, but in no event shall it be less than the highest amount set forth in the schedule." Applied in Preis v. Preis, 631 So. 2d 1349 (La. Ct. App. 1994) (rejected mere addition of $10,000 figure plus $5,000 figure to reach appropriate $15,000 figure); Zatkis v. Zatkis, 632 So. 2d 307 (La. Ct. App. 1993); Krampe v. Krampe, 625 So. 2d 383 (La. Ct. App. 1993).
(20) Maine: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 19, 316(4)(B): "When the combined annual gross income exceeds $126,600, the child support table is not applicable, except that the basic weekly child support entitlement of a child is presumed to be not less than that set forth in the table for a combined annual gross income of $126,600."
(21) Maryland: Md. Fam. Law Code Ann. 12-204(d): "If the combined adjusted actual income exceeds the highest level specified in the schedule in subsection (e) of this section, the court may use its discretion in setting the amount of child support." Applied in Voishan v. Palma, 327 Md. 318, 609 A.2d 319 (1992); Bagley v. Bagley, 98 Md. App. 18, 632 A.2d 229 (1993).
(22) Massachusetts: Massachusetts Rules of Probate Court, Child Support Guidelines: "These guidelines are not meant to apply where the combined gross income of the parties exceeds $100,000 or where the gross income of the noncustodial parent exceeds $75,000. In cases where income exceeds these limits, the court should consider the award of support at the $75,000/$100,000 level as a minimum presumptive level of support to be awarded. Additional amounts of child support may be awarded at the judgeís discretion." Applied in J.C. v. E.M., 36 Mass. App. Ct. 446, 632 N.E.2d 429 (1994).
(23) Michigan: Michigan Child Support Guidelines Section II(D): "In high income cases, where total family income exceeds the income categories listed on the schedules in Appendix A, the support amount should be calculated according to Table III. For example, using Table III for one child, at a combined net income of $1400 per week, the support recommendation would be $210 plus 10% of the amount over $1319. Total support would be $210 plus 10% of $81 or $218 per week which would then be apportioned between both parents." Applied in Kalter v. Kalter, 155 Mich. App. 99, 399 N.W.2d 455 (1986), leave denied, 428 Mich. 862, reconsideration denied, 428 Mich. 904, 406 N.W.2d 831 (1987).
(24) Minnesota: Minn. Stat. Ann. 518.551: "Guidelines for support for an obligor with a monthly income of $4,001 or more shall be the same dollar amounts as provided for in the guidelines for an obligor with a monthly income of $4,000." Applied in Sherburne County Social Services on Behalf of Schafer v. Riedle, 481 N.W.2d 111 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992).
(25) Mississippi: Miss. Code Ann. 43-19-101: the court shall apply a particular percentage to the whole income, but "[i]n cases in which the adjusted gross income as defined in this section is more than $50,000 . . . the court shall make a written finding in the record as to whether or not the application of the guidelines in this section is reasonable." Applied in Jellenc v. Jellenc, 567 So. 2d 847 (Miss. 1990).
(26) Missouri: Missouri Rules of Court, Rule 88.01, Civil Procedure Form 14: no provision for high income parents. Applied in Anderson v. Anderson, 861 S.W.2d 796 (Mo. 1993), and Mehra v. Mehra, 819 S.W.2d 351 (Mo. 1991) (the trial court is to presume that the highest figure provided in the chart at the $10,000 per month level is the correct amount of support, but the court may deviate upon good cause).
(27) Montana: Administrative Rules of Montana, Rule 46.30.1543(2): "The guideline tables do not apply to incomes greater than $39,500. When incomes exceed this amount the first $39,500 should first be applied in the appropriate column and line which shows the number and age of the child to arrive at a minimum support amount. The minimum support amount should be supplemented out of the remaining parental income. The amount of the supplement must be determined on a case-by-case basis." Applied in In re Marriage of Wackler, 258 Mont. 12, 850 P.2d 963 (1993).
(28) Nebraska: Nebraska Rules of Court Child Support Guidelines, Guideline C: "[I]f the total net income exceeds $8,000 monthly, child support amounts in excess of the $8,000 monthly may be more but shall not be less than the amount which would be computed using the $8,000 monthly income unless other permissible deviations exist."
(29) Nevada: Nev. Rev. Stat. 125B.070: applies percentage to parentís income; Nev. Rev. Stat. 125B.080: allows court to deviate because of "relative income of both parents." Applied in Lewis v. Hicks, 108 Nev. 1107, 843 P.2d 828 (1992).
(30) New Hampshire: N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 458-C:3: applies set percentage to income of parents. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 458-C:5: allows court to deviate from guideline where because of "significantly high or low income of the obligee or obligor." Applied in Giles v. Giles, 136 N.H. 540, 618 A.2d 286 (1992).
(31) New Jersey: New Jersey Child Support Guidelines Rule 5:6A: If the combined net family income exceeds $52,000, the court shall apply the guidelines up to that amount and supplement the guidelines award with an additional support amount based on the remaining family income and the factors enumerated in the N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A:34-23. Applied in Koelble v. Koelble, 261 N.J. Super. 190, 618 A.2d 377 (App. Div. 1992); Walton v. Visgil, 248 N.J. Super. 642, 591 A.2d 1018 (App. Div. 1991).
(32) New Mexico: N.M. Stat. Ann. 40-4-11.1: for gross monthly income greater than $8,300, multiply the gross by a number of set percentages, depending on the number of children.
(33) New York: N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law 240: "Where the combined parental income exceeds the dollar amount set forth in subparagraph two of this paragraph, the court shall determine the amount of child support for the amount of the combined parental income in excess of such dollar amount through consideration of the factors set forth in paragraph (f) of this subdivision and/or the child support percentage." Applied in Kessinger v. Kessinger, ___ A.D. 2d ___, 608 N.Y.S.2d 358 (1994); Lesch v. Lesch, ___ A.D.2d ___, 608 N.Y.S.2d 39 (1994); Colley v. Colley, ___ A.D.2d ___, 606 N.Y.S.2d 796 (1994); Harmon v. Harmon, 173 A.D.2d 98, 578 N.Y.S.2d 897 (1992).
(34) North Carolina: North Carolina Child Support Guidelines: "For cases with higher combined monthly adjusted gross income [than $10,000 per month], child support should be determined on a case-by-case basis. But in no event should the award in such case be lower than that established by applying the guidelines maximum amount in the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations."
(35) North Dakota: N.D. Cent. Code 75-02-04.1: makes no provision for income over $10,000 per month. Court may, however, deviate when circumstances so require. Applied in Montgomery v. Montgomery, 481 N.W.2d 234 (N.D. 1992) (amount provided at $10,000 level is starting point; the court may set it lower if hardship exists, or may set it higher where the needs and standard of living of the children so require); Heggen v. Heggen, 452 N.W.2d 96 (N.D. 1990).
(36) Ohio: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 3113.215(B)(2)(b): "If the combined gross income of both parents is greater than one hundred twenty thousand dollars per year, the court shall determine the amount of the obligorís child support obligation on a case-by-case basis and shall consider the needs and standard of living of the children who are the subject of the child support order and of the parents. . . . [T]he court shall compute a basic combined child support obligation that is no less than the same percentage of the parentsí combined annual income that would have been computed under the basic child support schedule . . . for a combined gross income of one hundred twenty thousand dollars[.] " Applied in Parzynski v. Parzynski, 85 Ohio App. 3d 423, 620 N.E.2d 93, appeal dismissed, 67 Ohio St. 3d 1450, 619 N.E.2d 419 (1992).
(37) Oklahoma: Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 43, 119: "In the event monthly income exceeds Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000), the child support shall be that amount computed for a monthly income of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and such additional amount as the court may determine." Applied in Archer v. Archer, 813 P.2d 1059 (Okla. 1991) (to determine amount above $10,000 level, consider need and predivorce standard of living).
(38) Oregon: Oregon Administrative Rules, Rule 137-50-490(1): "For combined adjusted gross incomes exceeding $10,000 per month, the presumed basic child support obligations shall be as for parents with combined adjusted gross incomes of $10,000 per month. A basic child support obligation in excess of this level may be demonstrated for those reasons set forth in Rule 137-50-330." Applied in Stringer v. Brandt, 128 Or. App. 502, 877 P.2d 100, review granted 320 Or. 110, 881 P.2d 141 (1994) (any decision to set support above $10,000 level must be based on childís needs); Bailey v. Bailey, 108 Or. App. 678, 816 P.2d 1195 (1991).
(39) Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules, Rule 1910.16-5(d): "[I]f the parties joint monthly income exceeds [$8,000 per month], the case is outside the guidelines and the amount of support is to be determined pursuant to existing case law." Applied in Ball v. Minnick, ___ Pa. ___, 648 A.2d 1192 (1994) (Melzer formula applies only to cases outside the guidelines; in all other cases falling within the guidelines, guidelines are presumptive and Melzerformula is inappropriate); Branch v. Jackson, 427 Pa. Super. 417, 629 A.2d 170 (1993); Keating v. Keating, 407 Pa. Super. 31, 595 A.2d 109 (1991).
(40) Rhode Island: Rhode Island Family Court Administrative Orders No. 87-2: "The Guidelines calculate basic child support obligation for combined adjusted gross income levels between $500.00 and $10,000 per month ($6,000 to $120,000 per year). For cases with higher combined monthly adjusted gross income, child support should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
(41) South Carolina: South Carolina Child Support Guidelines Handbook: "These guidelines provide for calculated amounts of child support for a combined parental gross income of up to $12,500 per month, or $150,000 per year. Where the combined gross income is higher, courts should determine child support awards on a case-by-case basis."
(42) South Dakota: South Dakota Child Support Guidelines: makes no provision for income in excess of $4,000 per month.
(43) Tennessee: Tennessee Department of Human Services Rules Chapter 1240-2-4-.04(a): "In cases where the net income of the obligor as calculated in the above rule exceeds $6,250 per month [application of the guidelines which applies a set percentage to income may be inappropriate when a court so finds]. These cases may require such things as the establishment of educational or other trust funds for the benefit of the child(ren) or other provisions as may be determined by the court." Applied in McCarty v. McCarty, 863 S.W.2d 716 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992).
(44) Texas: Tex. Fam. Code Ann. 14.055(c): "In situations in which the obligorís net resources exceed $6,000 per month, the court shall presumptively apply the percentage guidelines in Subsection (b) of this section to the first $4,000 of the obligorís net resources. Without further reference to the percentage recommended by the guidelines, the court may order additional amounts of child support as proven, depending on the needs of the child at the time of the order." Applied in Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, 860 S.W.2d 414 (Tex. 1993); In re Interest of Pecht, 874 S.W.2d 797 (Tex. Ct. App. 1994); Golias v. Golias, 861 S.W.2d 401 (Tex. Ct. App. 1993); Mai v. Mai, 853 S.W.2d 615 (Tex. Ct. App. 1993); Ikard v. Ikard, 819 S.W.2d 644 (Tex. Ct. App. 1991).
(45) Utah: Utah Code Ann. 78-45-7.12: "If the combined adjusted gross income exceeds the highest level specified in the table, an appropriate and just child support amount may be ordered, but the amount ordered may not be less than the highest level specified in the table for the number of children due support." Baker v. Baker, 866 P.2d 540 (Utah Ct. App. 1993); Johnson v. Johnson, 771 P.2d 696 (Utah Ct. App. 1989).
(46) Vermont: Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, 656(d): "The court may use its discretion in determining child support in circumstances where combined available income exceeds the uppermost levels of the support guideline adopted under section 654 of this title." Applied in C.D. v. N.M., ___ Vt. ___, 631 A.2d 848 (1993).
(47) Virginia: Va. Code Ann. 20-108.2: "For gross monthly income between $10,000 and $20,000, add the amount of child support for $10,000 plus the following percentages of gross income above $10,000 . . . For gross monthly income between $20,000 and $50,000, add the amount of child support for the $20,000 to the following percentages of gross income above $20,000 . . . For gross monthly income over $50,000, add the amount of child support for $50,000 to the following percentages of gross income over $50,000[.]" Applied in Brooks v. Rogers, ___ Va. App. ___, 445 S.E.2d 725 (1994).
(48) Washington: Washington State Child Support Schedule, Office of the Administrator for the Courts, codified at Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 26.19.020: "The economic table is presumptive for combined monthly net incomes up to and including $5,000. When combined monthly net income exceeds $5,000, support shall not be set at an amount lower than the presumptive amount of support for combined monthly incomes of $5,000, unless the court finds a reason to deviate below that amount. The economic table is advisory but not presumptive for combined monthly net income that exceed $5,000. When combined monthly net income exceeds $7,000, the court may set support at an advisory amount of support set for combined monthly net incomes between $5,000 and $7,000 or the court may exceed the advisory amount of support set for combined monthly net income of $7,000 upon written findings of fact."
(49) West Virginia: West Virginia Legislative Rules 78-16-1(2.7.2): "If the discretionary income of either support obligor exceeds $6,000 per month, or if the combined discretionary income of both support obligors exceeds $8,000 per month, the court or master may not apply the percentages set forth in this section. Under such circumstances, the court shall equitably determine the SOLA support obligation so as to avoid a windfall to either support obligor or a hardship on either support obligor, and shall be cognizant of the fact that an excessive amount of SOLA support may not be in the best interests of the child or children." Applied in Zaleski v. Zaleski, 189 W. Va. 454, 432 S.E.2d 538 (1993); Bettinger v. Bettinger, 183 W. Va. 528, 396 S.E.2d 709 (W. Va. 1990).
(50) Wisconsin: Wisconsin Administrative Code Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 80.03: applies set percentage to income of obligor based on number of children, but allows for deviation. Applied in Mary L.O. v. Tommy R.B. (In re Paternity of Tukker M.O.), 21 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1079 (Wis. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 1994); Parrett v. Parrett, 146 Wis. 2d 830, 432 N.W.2d 664 (Ct. App. 1988).
(51) Wyoming: Wyo. Stat. 20-6-304: applies formula to income over $5,885 per month.
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