A divorce is never easy, but when children are involved, it can be even more stressful. One of the most important issues to resolve during mediation is child support. Here’s how you can prepare for negotiations on this issue.
The basics of child support: what is it and why does it matter?
Child support refers to money paid by one parent to another to help cover the costs of raising a child. Why is it set up this way? Generally speaking, the parent who earns more money than the other is required to make payments.
But it’s not just about money; in most cases, the parent with less custody of the child is the one required to make payments. This is because the non-custodial parent is usually the one who has more time to earn money. The child support agreement also works to ensure that the child is financially provided for after the divorce.
How do courts determine how much a parent should pay?
Several factors can be taken into account by judges when they’re determining how much a parent should pay for child support. To begin with, income is crucial. Family courts will look at both parents’ earnings when determining the appropriate amount. But courts also consider other factors, such as major expenses for each family, the family’s living situation, as well as the child’s well-being and needs.
Can the amount of child support change? Yes, family courts can alter the original amount that was ordered if circumstances change at any point. For example, if one parent loses their job or has a medical emergency, family courts may be able to reduce child support payments until that parent is back on their feet.
How to negotiate child support payments in mediation
A family law attorney can be incredibly helpful when negotiating child support payments in mediation. For example, your attorney might point out that family courts generally consider the following factors when issuing child support orders:
- the standard of living for both parties
- how much time a child spends with each parent
- how much one parent pays in taxes
- an agreement to split child-related expenses between parents (such as medical and dental care, child care, and educational expenses)
It might not be easy to discuss the topic of child support with your ex, but the most important thing is to remain calm and avoid fighting. Here are a few tips for negotiating child support during mediation:
- Be flexible — If possible, try to agree to an amount that works for both of you. This way, you’ll avoid the costs and time of going to court and having a judge set an amount for child support.
- Stay positive and listen carefully — Negotiating child support during mediation can be stressful, but try to keep a positive attitude and show your ex that you’re willing to work together. Pay close attention to what they have to say, and don’t get angry or upset if they suggest something that you don’t agree with.
- Be open to other options — Remember: mediation is about reaching an agreement that has benefits for both parties. For example, it might be possible to come up with a solution where your child support payments are reduced in exchange for other things.
- Use the information provided by your attorney — This information will help you make a fair and reasonable offer early in negotiations. Additionally, your attorney can help you avoid making emotional decisions that may be difficult to justify later.
What if negotiations fail?
If you’re unable to reach an agreement after serious negotiations, you’ll need to head to court and have a judge issue a child support order. In most cases, the judge will ask each parent to provide a financial statement. This is a snapshot of your finances, which gives the judge an idea of how much you have available to spend on your child.
The judge will then decide how much child support the assigned parent should pay, taking into account everything from your income to the child’s financial needs. Should you disagree with the court’s decision, you can file an appeal. But make sure you have a good reason for taking the judge’s order to appellate court — otherwise, you risk wasting time and money.
Negotiating child support payments in mediation isn’t easy. It’ll be stressful, but this is a very important topic to resolve. Remember: you and your ex should put your child’s needs first. This means working together to come up with a solution that works for everyone involved.