What Aspects of Child Support Can You Negotiate?
Child support is standardized by the courts and based on accurate calculations. However, there are some areas of child support that might be negotiable. Keep in mind that, when considering a modification or negotiation on child support amounts, your attorney must follow the state guidelines for child support, then negotiate from there. Dropping below the state mandated amount, however, will not be approved by a judge.
Baseline Support – When the State’s Guideline is Too Low
The state’s benchmark is based on the mother’s and father’s income and the number of children; it then uses a series of calculations to determine what the child would receive if the parents still lived with one another. Sometimes, this baseline is too low. If you feel that the amount is too small, see if your spouse will work with you on the amount. A judge will listen to arguments on going above the guideline, as well. But, you must use evidence to prove that there is a valid, legal reason to go above what your state’s guideline requires.
Negotiations for Extras
Extras are items that are not considered part of the baseline child support, which are negotiable. These extras can include recreational activities, weekly lessons, sports programs and summer camps, and school activities. For example, your agreement may include each party paying half of these, in addition to the child support obligation – or, the non-custodial parent may pay slightly more for these items.
Medical and Dental Costs
All insurance costs, copays, and deductibles must be included in your child support negotiations. While the state requires that one parent insures the child(ren), that does not offer the custodial parent protections for copays and other medical costs. Therefore, you and your spouse should negotiate who will be responsible for these payments.
College Savings and Tuition Costs
Sometimes, you and your spouse can negotiate college savings and tuition costs for when the child turns 18 and enters college. You might agree to set up a 529 College Savings Plan or have child support extended until the child graduates college.
Al Corona, a Huffington Post writer, shares a tip in his blog article for those parents that are considering child support:
"What if you both agree that a certain percentage of that monthly income goes towards your children’s college savings? I mean that monthly amount is for their benefit, right? You may not be able to control how child support is spent but you would certainly feel better knowing that your divorce agreement stipulates that an agreed amount of that child support automatically goes into a college savings plan each and every month."
Can You Negotiate Child Support Effectively?
The more financial documents you provide to the courts, the apter the judge will be to increase child support obligations for the non-custodial parent. However, you must prove that the added child support amounts are in the best interest of the child – not yourself.
The courts want each parent to equally share the emotional and financial burden of raising the children, and providing them with the financial stability that they need to thrive. Therefore, when you have documentation that proves the need for a higher child support, you might receive the additional amount. It is best, however, that you negotiate privately with your spouse, along with your family law attorney.
Contact a Family Law Attorney About Your Child Support Arrangement
If you need to negotiate your existing child support or if you are in the process of filing for divorce and would like to explore your options for increased or decreased support amounts, speak with an experienced family lawyer. Family Law matters are complex and can often be emotionally-charged. An experienced lawyer can help you locate your ex, professionally and legally distribute notices of child support requests, and can determine the financial information you need in order to calculate the child support.