Child support negotiations are some of the most controversial issues during divorce proceedings. Just like other aspects of your divorce, you will be better off making an out-of-court agreement than taking the issue to the judge. Use these four major tips to sail through the negotiations:
Consider Extra Expenses
The mandatory expenses, such as school fees and rent, aren't the only expenses you need to raise a child. Other expenses may not be necessary, but you need to take care of them as far as your child's best interests are concerned. Examples of such expenses include fees for extracurricular activities, such as piano lessons. State guidelines may not dwell much on such issues, but that doesn't mean it's not important for your gifted piano player. Talk and negotiate with your partner to come up with a guideline for handling such expenses.
Expect contentious issues during your discussions since you cannot agree on all the points. When you hit such a snag, provide proof to support your points of argument. In fact, it's better to arm yourself with all the supporting documents or evidence before the negotiations commence. For example, when you claim that sneakers and toys cost a certain amount, use past receipts or catalogs from local stores to strengthen your claim. It's easy for a parent, especially one who hasn't been involved in such expenses during the marriage, to assume items cost way lower than they do.
Be Open to the Possibility of Modifications
Whatever you are negotiating or have agreed on, be prepared to accept that it may change. Child support arrangements change a lot, so don't expect your present agreements to hold water a year later. For example, your child may lose interest in ballet (relieving you of ballet lesson fees), or you may lose your side business (reducing your earnings and ability to pay child support). Accepting such realities may help you to negotiate faster rather than expecting the agreement to be set in stone.
Never Involve the Children
Even though child support is meant for the children, don't involve them in the negotiations. Doing so can easily end up pitting them against either of you. For example, the children may resent the parent who seems reluctant to include an expense in their upkeep, even if the expense is superfluous to their upkeep.
Whatever you decide, make sure it aligns with your state's legal guidelines concerning child support. Otherwise, the judge will toss out your agreement when you take it to him or her for ratification. Companies like Joanna Cobleigh Esq offer lawyers to help with this process. A family attorney can help you ensure your agreement is legally sound.