The payment of child support can be done mainly in three ways:
- by agreement, the product of informal negotiations between the parents (usually with the help of lawyers);
- out-of-court through alternative resolution of conflicts;
- by decision and order of the court.
The following summary focuses on the resolution of the payment of child support through the first two methods mentioned above: the agreement between the parents through informal negotiations and through processes alternative resolution of conflicts, as mediation and the law collaborative family.
[alert-note]Note: Even if your situation of child support is settled out of court, in most states you will need court approval to ensure they meet the state standards on the livelihood of children.[/alert-note]
Agreement through informal negotiations
If the parents are ready to solve together and informally the issues relating to the livelihood of children (including the amount payable, frequency of payments and duration), can negotiate an agreement with or without the help of lawyers. In some cases, the parties in dispute for the sustenance of the children may prefer that the negotiations are undertaken by a lawyer; in others, the parties can negotiate between themselves and then consult their lawyers before they finalize any agreement.
The specific process of negotiations will vary in the majority of cases, but the final result of the negotiations on the livelihood of children shall be a written agreement. This agreement will support children in writing can be called “resolution agreement” and, in some cases (such as those linked to a divorce), it can be part of an “agreement of divorce” or “dissolution agreement”. (Below you will find more information about how to implement this agreement.)
Alternative dispute resolution and child custody
For parents who need to resolve a dispute over child support, another option is using an alternative resolution of the conflict (in English, “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or ADR). This includes processes such as mediation and the law collaborative.
The ADR can be a beneficial tool when it comes to solving issues on the livelihood of children, depending on such factors as the degree of conflict between the parents in matters relating to the livelihood and their willingness to cooperate and resolve these issues.
ADR processes tend to be less hostile and more informal arrangements of a traditional court. Also, and can facilitate the early establishment of a settlement. With the mediation and the law, collaborative family, parents in dispute over child support (with the help of their lawyers) have the opportunity to take an active role in key decision making related to livelihood, instead of letting a third party (judge or jury) make those decisions.
The arbitration, rare in cases of family law, is a more structured ADR in which a neutral third party make the decisions after considering the evidence and arguments of each party. The arbitrator’s decision in a case of child support is not necessarily conclusive, and the parties can still resolve the key issues before a court.
See also: the mediation in a family case and the law collaborative family.
Settlement agreement for child support
Either to the parties to resolve the dispute through the child support out of court through informal negotiations or ADR, the result is a written document in which states are agreed. This agreement usually comes before the judge for final approval in order to ensure that the agreement reached with the parents to comply with the state guidelines on child support. Can take place at a court hearing during which the judge will ask questions factual basic to make sure that each party understands the terms of the agreement.
The agreement of child support you will receive the approval of the court, provided that the judge deems that the agreement was negotiated fairly and the terms are not contrary to state standards. In most states, the agreement becomes a court order binding or “decree” and the parents or other parties to the agreement must adhere to this or face the legal consequences.
For example, if an agreement of child support becomes a court order and is violated by the father, who ceases to make payments on time, the mother can go to court to enforce your right to receive payments pursuant to the order. The father, then you will have to pay additional penalties or even may go to jail if he refuses to comply with the order.
Child support: How to obtain the help of an attorney
If you are facing a dispute the potential for the sustenance of children, whether due to a divorce or because he is a single dad, a lawyer specializing in family law can help you with a fair representation of the parties in the process. A lawyer specializing in family law will work to obtain the best possible result in the execution of the support order, in the fulfillment of an order already existing, or in the establishment (or rejection) of the paternity. The first step is to find a lawyer spatialized in family law in your area.