5 Tips for Effectively Negotiating a Child Support Adjustment
Often, after an order of child support is entered, it is necessary to have the amount of support adjusted. This may be due to your child's needs and activities changing, your income changing, the other parent's income changing, or the parenting schedule changing. In most cases, it is in your best interest to negotiate an adjusted level of support rather than going to court. If you are unable to reach an agreement, it is important that you and your attorney do a cost to benefit analysis to ensure that the amount to be gained or saved is greater than the amount to be spent in litigating the issue.
Below you will find five tips to assist you in effectively negotiating a child support adjustment.
Tip # 1: Gather All Of Your Financial Records And Paperwork
In order to successfully negotiate or litigate a child support adjustment, you will need to make sure that all of your financial paperwork is in order. Typically, if you ask the court to adjust the child support amount, the court will require copies of your pay statements and bank statements covering several months prior to your request as well as your tax returns for the last two years. It is a good idea to gather the same information to assist you in negotiating a child support adjustment. Make sure that you have copies of your pay stubs for the last 6 months, your bank statements for the last 6 months, and your tax returns for the last 2 years. You should also make sure that you have a copy of your current order of child support so that you can review how your or the other parent's income has changed.
Tip # 2: Review Your State's Requirements For A Child Support Adjustment
Before you begin any negotiation, you will want to understand what the court might do if you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement. It is important that you review the relevant statutes and local rules that could affect your case. The rules and statutes for a child support adjustment will also help you determine what information and records you will need to compile, and what paperwork you will need to complete (either after you have reached an agreement to adjust or to petition the court for a child support adjustment if unable to reach an agreement). You may want to schedule a consultation with an attorney who practices in your state to review your options and to help develop a plan for your request.
If the other parent is the one who has requested an adjustment, you should still review your state's rules and statutes. This review should give you an idea of whether that parent's request is reasonable, and whether it will likely be granted by the court if the other parent files the request. Again, you may want to schedule a consultation with an attorney who practices in your state to review the information provided to you by the other spouse, to help plan your next steps, and to discuss what your options are if the negotiation fails.
Tip # 3: Remember The "Little" Details
When you are negotiating a child support adjustment, don't forget to get documentation of expenses you pay for your child, such as health insurance. You may receive a credit for the health insurance expenses that you pay for your child when child support is calculated. You should get documentation from your insurance provider to determine the exact amount you pay for your child. You should check the rules of your state to determine if you will receive a credit for the expenses you pay for your child.
You should also gather the receipts and bills for your child's extracurricular, child care, medical, and other expenses that you pay. If your child has greater than average expenses, or if the other parent was supposed to contribute to those expenses but has not done so, the receipts and bills may be a useful bargaining tool for you.
Finally, do not forget about the tax exemptions for your child or future expenses, such as college education, that may arise and could be addressed in your adjustment.
Tip # 4: Exchange Information With The Other Parent
You will need your financial information as well as the other parent's financial information to prepare to negotiate a child support adjustment. Once you have gathered your information and records and determined what information you need from the other parent, you should arrange to exchange that information with the other parent. You and the other parent will benefit by having the complete records and information to prepare for your negotiations.
Tip # 5: Prepare Your Proposed Child Support Documents
You should also be prepared with your proposed child support documents when you begin negotiating an adjustment to the child support amount. By preparing proposed child support documents, you will be able to easily show the other parent what you are requesting, and you will make it easy for the other parent to sign and agree to your proposal. You will also clearly see how your proposal will affect the child support amount and whether you would like to make any additional changes before offering your proposal to the other parent. Your state may offer forms to use when preparing your child support documents for the court.
You may want to consider having an attorney who practices in your state review your proposed child support documents. They will be able to help you determine if there are any corrections needed, and that you have everything required to present your final agreement to the court. An attorney could also help you ensure that you have considered and addressed the issues that may arise as well as to prepare for your negotiation with the other parent.