Negotiating child support payments can be an arduous process, often accompanied by difficult feelings from both parents. To make the process easier, consider keeping the process straightforward and non-emotional. The following are some tips to help you get through the process.
Verify Your Expenses and Income
One of the most important parts of the negotiation is to provide your income verification. Submit your check stubs and copies of your tax returns to prove your income. To prove your expenses, provide verifiable sources of your monthly expenses. This includes copies of your utility bills or mortgage or rent statements. The information helps determine a reasonable payment amount.
Agree to Exchange Information on a Yearly Basis
In the negotiation, provide a way to automatically review both you and your former spouse's income and expenses if an adjustment is necessary. Agree in your divorce that you will exchange your information each year to see if the payment amount needs to change. Doing so will save you legal fees by preventing a new court action for the adjustment.
Take Other Child Expenses Into Account
During the negotiation, do not forget to factor in your children's additional expenses, such as education and extracurricular activities. If you do not expect their activities or education expenses to change, you both need to determine how each of you will contribute to these expenses.
While you discuss the children's expenses, you should each ask your former spouse for proof of the costs of those expenses. Once you verify the expenses through bank statements, canceled checks, or receipts, you can more easily negotiate how you will each accommodate the expenses in your divorce. You simply do not want to agree to pay half of the amount if you are not certain exactly how much half of the expenses are.
Prepare to Ask to Deviate From the Standard Calculation
In many cases, the judge will use the standard child support calculation to determine how much you will either pay or receive. If you and your former spouse agree on your child support decision, ask the court to not use the standard calculation. Keep in mind the court may or may not agree to do so.
Keep Your Children Out of the Negotiation
You should never include your children in any child support discussion. Not only is doing so unhealthy for the children, and could possibly pit one parent against the other, but the court also frowns on this. Even if you have frustrations with your spouse regarding your child support negotiation and payments, mask the frustration in front of the children.
Remember the Meaning of Child Support
Many parents forget the reason for paying and receiving child support. If you are the parent who has to pay the support to your former spouse, you may get upset about paying him or her once the marriage is over. Keep in mind your payments are not meant for your spouse but to help support your children's daily needs.
Think about the payment as your normal contribution to the family before the divorce. In fact, paying support should make you feel good about meeting your children’s needs.
If you are the parent who receives the child support, remember the money is to benefit the children. Do not make the mistake of using the money for an extravagant expense for yourself. If your spouse thinks you misuse the money meant for the children's needs, he or she can take you back to court for an adjustment, meaning less money for the kids.
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