Child support refers to the payments made to and from the parents of a child or children in order to assist them in providing for that child. A child support agreement is often a necessity when parents separate or divorce from their partner and are, in turn, unable to provide the financial support needed to properly care for their child(ren) on their own. This could be due to unemployment, low income, or other factor that can lead to an inability to provide for their child.
Here’s a look at what child support agreements involve and why it’s important for certain parents to seek one.
How Agreements are Established
Not all child support agreements are created in the same ways. Some parents establish an agreement through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is a process that takes place out of court and can involve mediation, evaluation, or arbitration. Other parents opt for formal negotiations between parties, where each individual has their own lawyer to represent them. Court child support orders are another way to establish an agreement and are commonly issued during legal separation or divorce proceedings.
What Your Child Support Agreement and Court Order Will Include
A child support agreement serves as a record of the terms agreed to by both parents with regard to payments. It will establish:
- Each parent’s specific responsibilities for financial payments regarding the child.
- The amount of payment to be rendered.
- How frequent these payments will be made.
- The duration of the payment period, which typically ends when the child becomes an adult and turns 18 years old, unless that child is still in high school, in which case the support will continue to age 19 or high school graduation, whichever occurs first.
- Costs and expenses that the child support payments will be used for, like educational costs, health insurance, medical care, and more.
- Any expenses that the non-paying parent will be responsible for.
Why a Legal Documented Agreement and Court Order is Essential
If you and your child’s other parent disagree on what is necessary to properly care for them, or if co-parenting is a frustrating and challenging task for both individuals, seeking legal assistance is essential to coming to agreeable terms on how you will both support your child. Even if you and your ex-partner get along in a civil manner after separation or divorce, unexpected situations can occur that may disrupt you or their ability to stick to verbal agreements or decisions you may have previously made regarding child-care and support.
In order to better ensure there is a fair balance between both parents’ ability to support the child, a court order encompassing that legal agreement must be in place. This order serves as legal proof that an agreement has been made, so that payments to or from the other parent are legally required to be made and can be enforced by the courts.
Changes can be made to your agreement if a judge believes there is valid reasoning for amending the child support document. However, having a legal agreement in place can provide you the peace of mind that each parent will have the financial means necessary to care for your child(ren).
Looking for a Child Support and Custody Lawyer in MD?
Alan Billian is a seasoned family lawyer with over 28 years of experience in providing parents and families the legal services they need. If you’d like to learn more about applying for child support or have questions about your current agreement, reach out to us today.