Ensure the Best for Your Children With Our Child Support Agreement Template
When parents split up, the hardest-hit are often the children from the relationship. As if the emotional trauma were not enough, many young people are also placed in financial hardship through the absence of support from one of their parents.
Child support can at least be regulated if a strong child support agreement is in place. DoNotPay is the expert at providing you with legal documents and contract templates that help you avoid expensive lawyers’ fees and protracted legal processes.
How Does Child Support Work?
Child support refers to the money that one parent pays to the other to cover the expenses of raising a shared child or children.
The payments are normally made at regular intervals—monthly or weekly—and should be calculated to take account of all the child’s needs.
The responsibility of the supporting parent normally ends when the child reaches majority at 18. Special agreements can be made to support the child through college, though.
How Is Child Support Agreed Upon?
If you are lucky, you and your partner will be able to settle on a mutually acceptable figure for child support without having to involve lawyers or the courts. Even in this case, though, a written agreement should be in place.
There are three formalized routes to reaching a child support agreement, as follows:
- Formal negotiations
- Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
- Court child support order
The parents enter into formal negotiations to determine the amount, frequency, and duration of child support payments. In such situations, each parent is normally represented by a lawyer.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADR is a formal, out-of-court process that may involve external evaluation, mediation, or arbitration.
Court Child Support Order
If child support can’t be agreed upon by other means, the courts make a ruling. This normally happens during a divorce or legal separation proceedings.
Is a Child Support Agreement Enforceable in Court?
A child support agreement is a contract between the parents. To make it enforceable, you should submit it to a court for approval.
The approval process also ensures that the agreement complies with state guidelines and is a useful check to guarantee that the agreement is fair and equitable.
If the agreement has court approval, a defaulting parent can be held in contempt of court and can face serious consequences, including fines, custodial time, or loss of civil privileges.
What Needs To Be in a Child Support Agreement?
A child support agreement should be drawn up with the child’s best interests at heart—the needs or desires of either parent are secondary.
At the very least, the agreement has to contain the following:
- The parent responsible for payments being made (normally the non-custodial parent)
- Payment amounts
- Payments frequency
- Duration of payments
- Acceptable uses for payments
- Responsibilities of the custodial parent
The most contentious area of the agreement is generally the amount to be paid and the breakdown of what the non-custodial parent should be responsible for.
Guidelines in the U.S. exist at the federal level but vary widely from state to state. Three methods are used to determine the amounts of child support that are considered fair, and they are all income-based:
Income Shares Model
|Both parents’ income is combined, and the total is matched against a fixed table of amounts deemed necessary to raise a child. The contributions to the child’s upbringing are then divided between the parents based on their percentage contribution to the total household income||Maryland, Wyoming, Washington, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, South Dakota, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Florida, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Hampshire, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Nebraska, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Guam, New Mexico, Illinois, California, Kansas, Maine, Indiana, Colorado, West Virginia, Oregon, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Arizona, Connecticut, and Idaho|
|A slightly more complicated version of the Income Shares Model uses precedents and prior judgments to factor in the parents’ financial needs in addition to the child’s||Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana|
Percentage of Income Model
|Determines child support as a percentage of only the non-custodial parent’s income||Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Texas|
These models are useful guidelines if you are drawing up a child support agreement yourself. Following them will also ease the route to getting court approval for the agreement.
Need Help Writing Legal Documents? DoNotPay Is Here for You!
It is possible to write your child support agreement without involving lawyers, but by far, the easiest way is to let DoNotPay help you.
To get the legal document you need, all you have to do is the following:
- Open DoNotPay in your web browser
- Fill out the details we need
- Wait for DoNotPay to generate your document
Remember that the document is only binding once it has been signed by both parties. For extra peace of mind, you should also get it approved by a court.
What Other Legal Documents Does DoNotPay Have?
DoNotPay is developing hundreds of legal documents to cover your needs. The list is constantly growing, and here are just a few:
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