Can Agreements on Child Support be Made Outside of Court?
Litigation around child support issues can be prohibitively expensive in terms of legal fees. Therefore, handling child support issues outside of court can save time and money. If you and your co-parent wish to avoid a lengthy and expensive legal process, you may try to resolve your child support issues by coming to an agreed child support order outside of court and then presenting the agreement to the court for entry in order to ensure its enforceability.
Most couples going through a divorce are primarily concerned about how their new custody split will affect their children. One way to address this issue is coming to an agreement with your co-parent on the issue of child support. Such an agreement can minimize contention and avoid litigation in order to make the divorce process easier for you and your children.
If you wish to resolve your child support issues on your own, you and your co-parent need to be ready to openly handle any arguments or disagreements independently. For this reason, it is wise to negotiate an agreed upon child support order with the help of an experienced family law attorney, who will ensure not only its enforceability but also that all of your children’s needs and expenses are accounted for in the final agreed child support order.
About Child Support Orders
Child support orders are legally binding documents that outline the strict rules parents must follow in order to provide for their children financially. These agreements may be established not only after parents have gone through a divorce, but can also be drawn up outside of court by agreement. While there is no explicit rule that says parents have an agreed child support order, doing so ensures that the child’s interests are protected should either parent fail to meet their obligation under the child support order.
Entering Your Child Support Order with the Court
Your agreed child support order will not be legally binding unless it is approved by a judge. The judge will review your case and your proposed settlement. If the agreed child support order appears to be fair, the judge will sign it, making it legally binding. However, if the agreement is deficient when comparing it to the amount a spouse would be required to pay using the Washington Child Support Schedule, the judge may not sign off on it. Therefore, it is best to have an attorney prepare your child support order to ensure its approval and entry with the court.
Why Does the Child Support Order Need to be Approved by the Court?
The court’s main concern around children is to make sure that their financial needs are met through a fair and comprehensive child support order. By entering your child support order with the court, you are ensuring its enforceability through the authority of the Washington court system. In other words, if your co-parent decides to violate the agreed upon child support order and stops making payments, you will be entitled to seek enforcement through the contempt powers of the court. In this situation, a judge may order your ex to pay their obligation under your child support order, and could even enforce financial and legal penalties, including attorney’s fees and costs, in order to obtain the missing payments.
Do you need help with your child support case? Contact McKinley Irvin to discuss the details of your support arrangement or find out what you need to do to make a modification.
Contributing author: Tarik Polovina, McKinley Irvin family law attorney