For many people, negotiating child support is better than relying on the court’s determination. However, you will only enjoy those benefits if you get a good agreement. Below are some tips to help you get a fair child support agreement.
Be Truthful and Transparent
Both parties should be honest with their incomes and expenses. That is the only way to know how much is at your disposal for the child’s benefit. For example, tell the other spouse if your side business has picked up and your latest income is better than last year’s. Everyone should volunteer relevant information instead of waiting for the other parent to ask.
Honesty and transparency also facilitate the negotiation process – your partner will be more willing to compromise if they know you are transparent. On the other hand, your partner is likely to take a more hardline stance if they unearth a lie – for example, hidden assets.
Consider All Expenses
Your child support agreement should capture every possible expense your child is likely to need. Do not just compute the regular expenses such as rent and food. Include irregular expenses such as a healthcare copay in case the child gets sick. You should also include future expenses, such as costs for co-curricular activities, which are likely to increase as the child grows.
Understand the Law
Both parents should be conversant with the state’s child support guidelines. For one, this understanding will ensure you get the court’s approval for your agreement. Secondly, understanding the guidelines will help your child what they deserve (according to the law), especially if you will be the parent receiving child support.
Allow a Possibility of Deviation From the Guidelines
State law gives you a good starting point for calculating child support. However, the prescribed formula is not absolute. You should especially be wary of online
calculators, which only give approximate figures.
Each family’s circumstances are unique, and online resources calculators cannot capture each unique circumstance. Secondly, the law allows for some deviation from the set guidelines. A deviation is possible if:
- At least one of you has an extremely large or low income.
- Your child has unique needs (for example, if one of your children is living with a disability).
- You have equal custody and parenting time.
A family lawyer can help you consider these unique factors and develop a fair child support plan.
You might not be able to give your child the life you want for them after your divorce – and that is okay. Don’t forget that:
- Many people live beyond their means, but child support only gives your child a life you can afford.
- Your respective finances are also likely to take a hit after your divorce, so your post-divorce standard of living might be lower than the pre-divorce standard.
Thus, you should be realistic with the amount you want for your child. Don’t insist on a figure that the paying parent cannot afford.
Keep in Mind the Support Is for the Child
Lastly, don’t forget that child support is for the child and not the receiving parent. Both parents should understand this so that your feelings for each other don’t affect the negotiations.
For example, the receiving parent should not punish the other parent by asking for an astronomical amount. The paying spouse should not think that the other parent would benefit from the divorce if they agree to sizable child support.
The Law Offices of Lynda Latta LLC has practiced family law for decades. We understand that everyone wants the best for their children, even if parents do not always agree on how to get there. Contact us for consultation on child support agreements and other aspects of your divorce.