In California, child support is a critical aspect of any family law case. The state has certain fundamental guidelines that must be adhered to when issuing an order as to how much will be paid. However, there are circumstances in which there can be a deviation from the guidelines. Generally, that means that parents have agreed to an amount on their own. It is important to note that there are requirements that must be met before a judge will sign a stipulation to put it into effect.
Key factors in a non-guideline child support agreement
The parents who are trying to agree to an amount that differs from the guidelines must know their rights to child support and know what the guidelines are. In some instances, there is pressure being exerted from one parent to the other to agree to a different amount. If that is shown, then the agreement will not be approved. Public assistance is also a factor. If a parent is receiving public assistance or has applied for it, this will impact the attempted agreement.
Of course, the child’s needs must be met. If, for example, the non-guideline amount will deprive the child of a decent place to live, leave the custodial parent unable to pay medical expenses or the child will not have enough to eat, then it will be rejected. When the judge reviews the agreement, these issues will be considered. Child support is based on parents’ income, the child’s needs and what would be deemed a reasonable and fair amount. Any deviation will be scrutinized to ensure fairness and meeting the child’s best interests. In some cases, a child support agreement is preferable to following the guidelines as it will improve the child’s situation. In others, following the guideline is better.
Protection is essential for parents and children in a child support case
The crucial part of the child support order is that all facets of the child’s needs are met. When going beyond the guidelines, that can include child care, health costs that is not paid by insurance, special educational needs, traveling to see the noncustodial parent and other expenses that arise. Even if the parents are on good terms, it is important to have advice when negotiating an agreement instead of following state guidelines. For contentious cases, it is even more vital. This should be understood with any part of child support.