When parents divorce or separate, negotiating issues relating to child support through divorce mediation or with the assistance of divorce attorneys is an option. Once a child support agreement - including the amount, frequency and duration of payments - is put in writing, both parents must sign, or argue, the child support agreement. Then the child support agreement must be approved by the divorce courts.
In most states, child support is considered the right of a minor child. A custodial parent may not make an agreement to waive this right, unless the divorce court makes a specific finding to depart from the state child support guidelines.
Before approving a child support agreement, the divorce court may question the parents to make sure the agreement is understood and wasn't signed under duress. If the court finds the child support agreement provides adequate support for the child and either follows the guidelines or demonstrates a valid reason not to, it can be made a court order.
In some states, child support guidelines provide specific reasons for allowing deviation in a child support agreement. For instance, in New York, the Child Support Standards Act requires courts to award child support in accordance with state guidelines unless parents make an alternate agreement. To be valid, a child support agreement in New York must include the following elements:
Any New York child support agreement not containing these mandatory elements is generally unenforceable and not approved by the divorce court.
In any state, if a divorce court finds that a child support agreement doesn't provide for the basic needs of a child, it may be rejected or modified by the court. After a child support agreement is approved and made a court order, a parent may be held in contempt of court and face sanctions if the agreement is violated.
Speak with a local divorce lawyer about negotiating a child support agreement to protect your child's financial security. Learn about your rights as a supporting parent by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form to set up a preliminary consultation today.
The above synopsis of child support guidelines is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.