Child Support by Agreement

There are three ways of determining child support:

1) An agreement reached between the parents through informal negotiations
2) An agreement reached between the parents after using an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like mediation or collaborative law process
3) Court Order

This section deals with the resolution of the issue of child support through agreements – agreements reached between the parents through informal negotiations or agreements reached between the parents after using an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like mediation or collaborative law process. Even after an agreement is reached, it must be approved by the court.

Informal Negotiations

If you and your spouse are in a position to informally negotiate the issue of child support and reach an agreement with or without the assistance of your attorneys, then it is be best solution. You can have the child support arrangement tailored to your needs and requirements. You can negotiate with your spouse directly and then inform your attorneys about the settlement so that they can prepare the agreement based on the negotiations. Alternatively you can have your attorneys present during the negotiations. The agreement is referred to as the settlement agreement and must be submitted to the court hearing the divorce petition. The court will review the agreement to ensure that it complies with all legal requirements and isn’t unfair to one parent. Once the court approves the agreement, it will become part of the divorce decree.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Child Support

If you and your spouse are unable to mutually negotiate a settlement, you can use an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like mediation or collaborative law process. If you and your spouse are willing to work together and ready to make a few adjustments, then alternative dispute resolution is the way forward.

ADR Options

ADR processes are generally more informal and less adversarial than traditional litigation. It takes much less time to resolve the issue of child support through ADR than through litigation. ADR is also less expensive than litigation. Another benefit of ADR is that the parents can actively take part in the resolution unlike litigation where the court will decide the issue. <

Another more formal ADR option is arbitration. In arbitration, the parties appoint a neutral third party known as the arbitrator who decides on the issue after hearing both parties and reviewing the evidence.

Child Support Agreement

If you are able to resolve the issue of child support out of court, you should prepare a written agreement based on the settlement agreed at with your spouse. The agreement after it is signed by you and your spouse must be submitted to the court. The judge will review the agreement to check that there has been no coercion on anyone to sign the agreement and that the agreement is not unfair to anyone. Once the agreement is approved by the judge, it will form part of the divorce decree. Once it forms part of the divorce decree, if any parent violates the agreement, the other can go to court for enforcing child support and the violating parent can be subject to penalties including a jail term.

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