Can Agreements on Child Support Be Made out of Court?
03 Dec 2020
Raising kids is difficult – and expensive – under the best of circumstances. But when you are separated from your child’s other parent, there’s a whole new level of worry and uncertainty when it comes to raising a child in two homes.
Part of the way the courts aim to help create a more stable, equitable living situation for children is for one parent to pay the other child support.
Many aspects of co-parenting are able to be decided outside of the courtroom, including child custody, where the children go to school, and who is considered the primary parent. This leaves many parents wondering: Can child support agreements be made outside of court?
The Answer: It Depends
In most states – Maryland included – the amount a non-primary parent pays in child support is determined by law.
The amount paid is determined by a variety of factors, including how many children are being supported, the income of both parents, how many overnights the non-custodial parent has annually, work-related child care expenses, health insurance expenses, and any extraordinary medical expenses.
In cases where the non-custodial parent does not have shared custody, that parent then will likely be ordered to pay child support based strictly on the calculations.
For cases of shared custody, most courts will order an offset. This means that both parents’ relative incomes and other expenses are considered, with the parent who makes more paying the parent who makes less child support.
If You Agree to More than Required
In some cases, the parents may agree to more paid in child support than is required by statute.
All child support orders must go through a judge before they can become enforceable. If you and your ex have agreed to more child support paid than is required by the statute, your judge may agree to the deviation.
If You Agree to Less than Required
For some people, the required amount of child support payments may feel like a financial hardship. This is especially true for those who have a great deal of debt that must be paid, with child support obligations then leaving much less for living expenses and debt repayment.
However, it is very difficult to get a court to agree to less child support than is required by law.
In these instances, the person requesting to have child support decreased has to prove that the decrease will be in the children’s best interest. This can be a very high burden to prove, with requesting more time to get extra training or education in order to provide a more stable income among the chief reasons.
In short: Yes, you and your co-parent can agree to a child support amount different than what the courts typically would require, but any agreements have to pass a judge’s scrutiny before they’re approved.