What negotiating options are used to make support agreements?

If you are a parent who is about to get divorced, you will likely have to work out the details of the child support portion of your parenting plan. Along with child custody, the issue of child support can become one of the most contentious points of negotiation when filing for divorce. There are several options available for arriving at the amount which will be paid.

First, understand that if you and your soon-to-be ex can peacefully agree on the amount to be paid in support, then you will be able to bypass more formal negotiations. Informal negotiations could be handled directly between you and your ex, or you can have attorneys act as your representatives. Often, informal support discussions are included as part of a broader divorce settlement agreement.

However, if you are having trouble finding common ground, you may wish to pursue a process called "alternative dispute resolution." ADR can involve employing such tools as collaborative law and mediation. Typically, ADR involves the divorcing parties, their attorneys, and a mediator who is a neutral third party, working in concert to arrive at a satisfactory agreement. Both sides present their case to the mediator who offers his or her decision. But it's important to note that a mediator's decision is not legally binding and can be rejected if you or the other party should so choose.

Finally, if all else fails, your child support issues will be settled by a judge in family court. Judges have set criteria that they apply when awarding child support payments and once the decision is rendered it is legally binding.

Regardless of how you choose to resolve your child support issues, it is very helpful to seek the advice and representation of an experienced family attorney. The attorney can work to make sure that the payments you make or receive are fair and serve the best interests of your child.

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