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How parents might reach a child support agreement

When California parents of young children get a divorce, one might be required to pay child support to the other. Parents do not necessarily have to go to court to have a judge decide the amount, frequency and duration of child support. They can negotiate the agreement themselves or work with their attorneys to reach an accord.

If parents are struggling to reach an agreement, they might consider an alternative dispute resolution process. With mediation, a facilitator works with the couple to resolve conflict. Another option may be arbitration although it is less common in family law. This involves having a neutral person listen to the arguments on either side and reach a decision.

Once the agreement is put in writing, a judge reviews it. The judge will make sure it follows state child support guidelines and may have a hearing to ensure that both parents understand the agreement. The agreement will then become a legal document that allows the parent receiving child support to get enforcement assistance from the state if the other parent does not pay.

A number of factors may be taken into account in addition to income when making a decision about child support. For example, day care and health care costs might be considerations. Parents may also want to negotiate who will pay for certain extracurricular activities and how they will pay for a child's college education. In addition to a child support agreement, they may need to create a parenting plan as well that outlines how they will raise the child. How much detail goes into this plan is generally up to the parents, but by giving parents an opportunity to anticipate issues, it may help reduce future conflict.

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