What to Consider Before Negotiating Child Support Outside of Court
New York family courts apply state guidelines in deciding the amount of child support parents must pay after a divorce. These guidelines take into account parental income and the number of children for whom financial support is required. But in many cases, parents may wish to depart from the state guidelines and create an agreement they believe will better suit their circumstances. Such agreements are subject to court approval. If you want to negotiate a child support arrangement that a court will accept and enforce, you will need to put in careful thought and consideration.
Creating a workable child support arrangement starts with gaining a realistic understanding of what it costs to raise your child and how costs may shift as the child grows older. Child support payments must cover a child’s basic needs, which include food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education. However, the cost of raising each child is different. What are considered basic needs for one family may be considered extravagant or insufficient for another. Take time to account for what is spent during a typical month to pay for your child’s day-to-day life. If your child is part of a sports team or school club that charges fees, if the child has a big event coming up this year or if they need special supplies for school, write it all down. You will also want to discuss with your ex whether or not you plan to pay for your child’s college or professional education after he or she reaches the age of 21.
Once you have quantified what you believe it will cost to raise your child, figure out what portion of the financial burden rests on you. Child support is typically awarded to the parent who has sole or primary custody of a child. However, sharing custody does not alleviate either parent’s child support obligation. When parents with joint custody have a sizeable income disparity, the higher-earning parent is usually expected to contribute more to the child’s needs. Income includes employment wages as well as government benefits, pensions, earnings from the stock market and a from wide range of other sources.
You should be armed with all relevant information before you begin the negotiation process, including discussions conducted during mediation or as part of a collaborative divorce. A financial planner or accountant can help provide valuable perspective and advice about what your child’s present needs and about potential unexpected expenses.
The family law attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. in Melville, New York have helped many divorcing parents on Long Island to negotiate enforceable child support agreements without the need for drawn-out court battles. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.