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What should be part of a negotiated child support agreement?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | Child Support

There is a perception that all family law cases in California are contentious. This is understandable given the attention paid to people who cannot agree on anything as they part ways. Still, there are many instances in which the parents can put their differences aside and look for ways to negotiate.

An evenhanded negotiation can be effective and cost-efficient. This is true if the sides are trying to hammer out an agreement for property division, alimony, child custody and child support. Regarding child support, it is vital for the child to be provided for. When considering a child support agreement, there are key aspects that should be part of the settlement.

Parents should know the procedure for a child support agreement

When the court decides on child support, it uses the child support guidelines to come to what it deems a fair amount. Since this is based on myriad factors – most notably income, child’s needs and how many children there are – the amounts can vary. Parents can simply follow the guideline in their agreement or they can deviate from it. The judge will assess the agreement to ensure it is fair.

Parents can agree on how much will be paid. In some cases, the amount will be less than it would be if the child support guidelines were used. When agreeing on a lesser amount than the guideline, it is imperative that the parents are doing so voluntarily. If there is a belief that threats or pressure contributed to the lower amount, the court will not approve it.

The parents need to understand the costs and who will pay them. Failing to account for every expense could be an obstacle to a reasonable agreement. Health insurance is fundamental to a child’s ability to thrive. Childcare could be needed. The child might have special needs. Traveling for parenting time could be costly, depending on the distance. Other expenses can arise.

Depending on the income, the expenses are generally split in half. This, however, can range, depending on the parents’ income and the child’s needs. The parents can formulate their own split as part of the agreement.

Even with a negotiation, it is important to have legal assistance

Simply because the parents are on good enough terms to negotiate an agreement as part of their family law case, that does not eliminate the need for professional help. There is nuance to any case, even if the parents are amicably ending their marriage.

With child-related concerns, it is especially critical to have professional assistance. This is for the child’s future and so the parents can be protected to avoid challenges in the aftermath.

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