Can the Parents Agree on a Child Support Amount & Submit to the Office of Child Support?

By Beverly Bird

When parents divorce, the amount of child support payable from one to the other is never left to chance. Courts take the position that children are entitled to live as well post-divorce as they did when their parents were together. The obligation to support them takes precedence over almost every other post-divorce financial consideration. If you're facing divorce, you and your spouse can agree to an amount of support, but it must be in your child's best interests.

When parents divorce, the amount of child support payable from one to the other is never left to chance. Courts take the position that children are entitled to live as well post-divorce as they did when their parents were together. The obligation to support them takes precedence over almost every other post-divorce financial consideration. If you're facing divorce, you and your spouse can agree to an amount of support, but it must be in your child's best interests.

Guidelines

All state legislatures have committed to certain guidelines for calculating child support – mathematical equations that apply in all divorces within the jurisdiction. The majority of states use the income shares model. This takes both parents' incomes into consideration and each parent pays a percentage toward the children's care commensurate with his contribution to the combined income total. A handful of states simply use a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income based on the number of children he must support. Three states – Delaware, Hawaii and Montana – use a more sophisticated version of the income shares method. In all cases, parents must typically calculate support based on their state's method before they seek the court's permission to adjust it upward or downward as part of their divorce action. If parents agree to a different amount, the court must approve it and incorporate it into the final divorce decree. If it's deemed unfair to the children, a judge will not do this.

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Deviations

Judges can take it upon themselves to deviate from a guideline's child support amount as well, and they will do so under certain circumstances. For example, in Maryland, the court can adjust support if a divorce's custody arrangement calls for the children to spend 35 percent or more of their time with the non-custodial parent. In Alabama, a judge might deviate from the guideline support amount when the non-custodial parent lives some distance from his children and it's anticipated that he will incur a lot of travel expenses to facilitate visitation. If a parent feels that the support amount is unfair, he can petition the court to change it during his divorce proceedings, but such efforts are usually met with limited success.

Parental Agreement

If you and your spouse want to deviate from a state guideline amount of support, most courts impose a few requirements. For example, parents can't agree to a different amount in California if either of them receive public assistance or there is evidence of coercion – for example, one parent bullying the other into asking the court to vary from the guideline amount.

Waiving Support

Parents cannot agree to waive support entirely, and it's highly unlikely that a court would approve a marital settlement agreement that includes such a provision. This money is meant for your children's care and well-being; as a parent, you can't decline this right on their behalf.

Office of Child Support

A state's office of child support usually only enforces or modifies existing orders. An agreement – such as a marital settlement agreement including child support provisions – must be submitted to the court and signed off on by a judge before it is legally binding.

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Reasons to Deviate From California Guidelines for Child Support

References

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Do They Go by My Wife's Income For Paying Child Support in Delaware?

When Delaware couples divorce, the court issues a divorce decree describing the terms of the split, including child support, property division, child custody and alimony. When a parent remarries, his new spouse is not required to pay child support for his children from another relationship. However, the new spouse’s income can affect the calculation of child support since it impacts the available income a paying parent has available to pay toward his child support obligation.

Child Suport Guidelines in Arizona

If you have children and you're facing divorce, count yourself lucky if you live in Arizona. The state's statutory child support guidelines address a wide variety of circumstances, so few issues are left to chance. This can cut down on disputes between you and your spouse. The law does allow judges to deviate from the statutory guidelines, but certain rules regulate this as well.

What Constitutes Substantial Change for Someone Modifying Child Support in Florida?

Florida courts are aware that when parents part ways, their life circumstances may change. Children grow, lifestyles alter and parents’ incomes go up or down. The state’s legislation includes provisions for parents to go back to court when any such change affects their ability to pay child support or the children’s need to receive it. Parents can file a petition with the court, explaining the change and asking a judge to recalculate support based on the new circumstances.

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