Must the court always follow the guidelines, or may special circumstances result in higher or lower than guideline awards?

A court may deviate above or below these guidelines based upon the best interests of the child be considered in light of evidence including but not limited to the following relevant factors:

  1. the financial resources of the child;
  2. the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent;
  3. the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
  4. the physical and emotional condition of the child, and his educational needs; and
  5. the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

A court may deviate below the guidelines only upon entering specific findings to justify the lower amount. No specific findings are needed to deviate above the guidelines, but in practice, the courts generally state their reasons, which usually have to do with the children's special needs or the condition of the custodial parent.