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Child support agreement

This Agreement is entered by and between Jonas Adam, individually or collectively as the "Signee" and Jane Smith, as the "Signer", together referred to as the "Parties".
The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].

1. Agreement terms

The Parties agree that the following agreement is dependent on the terms presented as follow:

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Child support agreement

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What is child support?

In general, child support refers to the regular payments by one parent to another parent in a separated couple. These regular payments are designed to help cover the costs incurred by the receiving parent to raise the child or children in question.


What is a child support agreement?

A child support agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the payments from one parent to another. It is often negotiated and agreed-upon between the two parents after a separation. Child support agreements are usually found or negotiated in family law conflicts such as a legal separation or a divorce.


Why do you need a child support agreement?

As with all contracts, a child support agreement is important because it makes the responsibilities and obligations of each party explicit for the future. While there may have been verbal discussions about child support and related issues, having it in writing and signed by both parties makes it easy for the agreement to be reviewed, understood, and in force in the future. That way there is no misunderstanding or communication about what one party owes to the other.


What should a child support agreement contain?

There are several different important aspects to a child support agreement. The exact details of a child support agreement will vary depending on the circumstances of the agreement, such as if it's part of a temporary or permanent legal separation, divorce, etc. However, generally speaking, there are several elements which often appear in these agreements.


The first most common element of his outlining who the parents are and which parent or parents are responsible for the financial payments. The agreement will also almost always outline the amount of payment to be rendered in the frequency of payments, such as paid weekly monthly quarterly, etc. In many cases the child support agreement will also specify how the payments are being made, such as if they are sent by wire transfer, check, or cash. The agreement may also contain an explanation of penalties or issues if the payments are not made on time.


Another important aspect as it relates to time is when the payments cease. For example, it is common for child support to and when the child turns 18 years old, although that rule varies based on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the child support.


Also, it is not uncommon for the child support agreement to outline exactly what costs the child support should be used for. Often these cost should go directly to the raising of the child and the agreement is meant to enforce that. Commonly acceptable costs in a child support agreement or medical care expenses, health-related payments and health insurance, school tuition and school-related fees such as school supplies, medical care expenses, payments for special needs for other requirements. Lastly as it relates to costs, the agreement may outline what expenses, if there are any, that the custodial parent, the one that is raising the child is responsible for.


What other considerations are there for the agreement?

It's important to note that child support agreements work best when they keep the child's best interest in mind and at their center. Ultimately they are designed to ensure that the child has a successful upbringing and has the resources to do so. The agreement should be designed to maximize the chances of that successful upbringing and minimizing any disruption to the child's raising due to financial issues or concerns.


There's another important consideration in writing and reviewing child support agreements. Although child support agreements will follow many basic federal guidelines on what to include and there are many precedents for child support agreements, as mentioned above state law varies widely and this is no different in these agreements. Where the child lives will live has a significant effect on what the agreement will contain. Furthermore, judges themselves have significant sway over child support calculations and other aspects of the agreement. So, despite what is written in the agreement itself, the judge can make adjustments to it as they see fit.

How are child support agreements created?

There are several different ways that child support agreements can be created. In many cases, regardless of how it is created, the ultimate outcome is the agreement itself that outlines the payments, schedule, and more. However, the three ways to arrive at that agreement are:

  • A formal negotiation and discussion between the parties: this is most common, and often happens through lawyers representing each party. In this case, the child support agreement is being negotiated as part of a legal separation or divorce.
  • An “alternative dispute resolution”: this is another means of arriving at a child support agreement. It is a common outcome of a court process that may involve some mix of arbitration, mediation, or evaluation.
  • Legal separation or divorce proceeding by a judge: this is the last means at arriving at a child support agreement where the parties could not reach a conclusion based on the processes above or just went directly to a legal separation or divorce that is mediated by a judge.


Are child support agreements enforceable?

Although as you see above there are several ways to create a child support agreement, it must ultimately be put in writing and signed by both parties for it to be enforceable. If the agreement was created out of court or in some other way, it should still be submitted to the court or a judge to ensure it is valid and enforceable.


In any of the situations described, submitting the agreement to the court will be helpful in reviewing the agreement and ensuring that it applies to all federal, state, and local guidelines. For example, California has extensive and specific rules as it applies to child support agreements that are important to follow closely.  As mentioned these can vary widely state by state and county by county, so it's important to ensure it's valid with these so it can be enforced. Note that if an agreement is created and signed but not approved by a judge then it may not be enforceable. Once the court reviews the agreement, it can either accept it, modify it or request some modifications before excepting it, or rejecting it entirely and requiring the parties to create a new one. Once the agreement is finally excepted by the court it is normally transformed into a court order.


Making the agreement a court order is an important step because it means that one parent can be held in contempt of court for violating any part of the agreement. This is an important part of ensuring the agreement itself is enforceable. If a parent violates the agreement and that violates a court order, they can say serious penalties, such as fines, jail time, and loss of some civil privileges.


Whether you are creating a new child support agreement, negotiating or revising an existing one, or trying to enforce an existing one, it's important to have a lawyer review it and give you their feedback. This is important because there may be state or county-specific rules that apply to the agreement that you need to take into account that may affect the validity or enforceability of the agreement.


How can I modify a child support agreement?

The details of how you can modify a child support agreement will depend on several factors, such as which state you live in and the status and circumstances of the existing agreement. However, given that an existing child support agreement, when excepted by a court, is a valid court order it's important to have a good lawyer review any changes you'd like to meet to that agreement. Not only will this increase your chances of success of having the agreement changed, but it will also ensure you don't violate any part of the existing agreement. Doing so would be very harmful to you since violating a court order can come with heavy penalties, including fines and jail time.