“What Is A Hardship Deduction?”

In child support matters, a term that is often heard is a “hardship deduction.” Many times people think that this is a general reduction of child support due to the fact that they have a lot of debts or bills or a high mortgage. However, none of those things are what is being referenced. A hardship deduction is a deduction to your income for support purposes based on some very specific circumstances.

California Family Law Code Section 4071 outlines what qualifies as a hardship deduction:

(a) Circumstances evidencing hardship include the following:

(1) Extraordinary health expenses for which the parent is financially responsible, and uninsured catastrophic losses.

(2) The minimum basic living expenses of either parent’s natural or adopted children for whom the parent has the obligation to support from other marriages or relationships who reside with the parent.  The court, on its own motion or on the request of a party, may allow these income deductions as necessary to accommodate these expenses after making the deductions allowable under paragraph (1).

(b) The maximum hardship deduction under paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) for each child who resides with the parent may be equal to, but shall not exceed, the support allocated each child subject to the order.  For purposes of calculating this deduction, the amount of support per child established by the statewide uniform guideline shall be the total amount ordered divided by the number of children and not the amount established under paragraph (8) of subdivision (b) of Section 4055.

(c) The Judicial Council may develop tables in accordance with this section to reflect the maximum hardship deduction, taking into consideration the parent’s net disposable income before the hardship deduction, the number of children for whom the deduction is being given, and the number of children for whom the support award is being made.

In cases where the hardship deduction is for children residing with the obligated (paying) parent, the court has to balance the competing interests between the children being supported by support and the children living in the home. (See California Family Code section 4059(g).)
In addition, there are maximums as to the total deductions which can be taken, and the court is required to both find on the record the reason for allowing the hardship deduction, and the duration for which the hardship will last.

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