There are several issues that need to be settled when a couple goes through a divorce. Issues pertaining to children and finances tend to be the most contentious, which means it can be particularly difficult to settle matters of child support.
In California, the court prefers that parents negotiate child custody and support arrangements prior to trial, and then submit the agreement to court for approval. Child support attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP assist clients from Stockton and Walnut Creek, CA, through child support mediation to negotiate appropriate support payments.
California Child Support Laws
California child support laws stipulate that both parents are financially responsible for supporting their children. When one parent has primary custody, the other parent must provide payments to cover their portion of the child’s living expenses, such as food, clothing, medical care, and educational needs.
Even if parents share joint custody, one parent may be ordered to provide financial support if they make significantly more than the other parent.
Child Custody and Support Agreements
Child custody arrangements and child support payments should be settled by the parents together, through an informal negotiation or a legal mediation. The agreement must be written out and signed by both parents. It is then presented to the court for approval.
If parents are unable to reach an agreement, a trial may be necessary and the court will order child support payments. To avoid going to court, spouses may instead work with a mediator to resolve conflicts and disagreements.
How Mediation Works
During mediation, the spouses and their legal representatives will meet with a mediator, a third-party who will facilitate communication, negotiation, and compromises between the two sides. The mediator will not take a side, but will simply convey information and help the spouses reach an agreement. Many mediators are former judges or attorneys.
While the court takes numerous factors into account when ordering child support payments, the court will never understand the family’s situation as well as the parents. Mediation gives parents the power to work together and negotiate a payment that they know takes into account all the unique aspects of their circumstances.
The Benefits of Mediation
It is highly beneficial for divorcing spouses to settle child support payments through mediation as opposed to forcing the court to make a ruling. In addition to giving parents greater control over child custody and support arrangements, mediation offers the following benefits:
- It is completely confidential
- It promotes healthy communication between the parents
- It generally costs less than court proceedings
- Matters can be settled more quickly through mediation than through court
Determining Child Support Amounts
Our attorneys help our Stockton clients negotiate an appropriate child support settlement that takes into account each parent’s net disposable income, as well as factors such as:
- How much time the child spends with each parent
- Expenses to care for the child (including daycare and travel costs)
- The number of children involved
- Whether there are any other children from a previous marriage
Contact Our Attorneys
If you are going through a divorce and need help settling child support and custody issues, the attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP are prepared to assist you. To discuss your unique situation with our team of attorneys, contact us online at your earliest convenience or call (209) 477-8171.