When it comes to divorce, we often imagine long days spent in brown courtrooms. For many, this is the reality. However, you have more options than you may realize. You can, for instance, make any necessary decisions alongside your spouse. This keeps the power in your hands, bypassing the need to obey a court’s rulings.
Many divorcing couples find it hard to work together. There is, after all, a reason they are ending the marriage. When you want to work together, but you know you’ll need help, consider mediation. In this process, a legal professional works for you both. They help facilitate conversation, reaching conclusions that can benefit everyone.
Handling child support will be one of your many decisions. When courts make child support decisions, they consider many factors, and using these standards will help when creating your own plan. In this article, we will explore the forces that influence child support decisions, helping guide your child support decisions.
The Parents’ Combined Incomes
Both parents contribute to child support, even in court orders. This fact may be surprising to some, and it’s easy to see why. Child support payments flow in a single direction, from one parent to another. It’s natural to assume that only one parent is contributing.
Remember, however, how the court determines the child support amount. It is based on the incomes of each parent. Once the divorce is finalized, one parent usually has majority custody. This parent spends part of their income on the children, and that fact influences the child support ruling. The other parent is supporting this spending through child support payments.
When creating a child support agreement, consider the incomes of each parent. Calculate how much you spend on the kids per day. Then determine what percentage of each parent’s income goes toward that cost. By doing so, you can easily see how much money each parent should contribute to the children’s welfare.
Time Spent with the Children
Your calculations don’t end with strict income percentages. You must also consider how much time each parent spends with the kids. California courts use percentages in custody decisions. One parent may get the kids 75% of the time, and the other get them for 25%. The amount of time you have the kids impacts how much you spend on them.
If one parent has the kids most of the time, they more of their income on them. Therefore, they need a higher amount of support. This makes calculating support a bit more involved than raw percentages, but the outcome will be fairer.
How Child Support Will be Used
When calculating the overall cost of support, think about where you want that money to go. Some parents may believe, for example, that child support should cover only the bare essentials. Other parents may put a high value on art or reading, and they believe that money should be set aside for those purposes.
Consider what you both think is “necessary” to keep your kids healthy and happy, and include those expenses in your agreement. If Christmas presents are important enough to include, then do so. There are no limits to what you can add.
Making your child support agreement specific is important. It can give the paying parent peace of mind, knowing exactly how their money is spent. It also gives the receiving parent clear instructions on how to spend this money. Remember, if a parent is found using child support money incorrectly, they can suffer legal consequences. Creating strict, clear guidelines can keep parents free from such worries.
Once you’ve determined who makes the payments and how much they will pay, you need to hammer out these other details:
- The frequency of payments
- How long the paying parent must make these payments
- Whether either parent receives public assistance and how that affects payments
Furthermore, your agreement should include statements that help legally protect each parent. You should acknowledge your awareness of your children’s right to support. Your document should show that neither parent was forced or intimidated into this agreement. The agreement should also confirm that all decisions were made in the children’s best interests.
Finally, make sure that you’ve covered all the necessary steps for your child support agreement. To do this, run your documents by a legal professional. If you’ve missed something, they can catch it, keeping you from filing an incomplete decision. They can also help you submit the documents, overseeing the process and making sure it all runs smoothly.
If you’re ready to negotiate a child support agreement with your partner, we can help. For a free consultation, simply call (949) 558-2624 or fill out our online contact form.