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A Child Support Agreement is used by parents to lay out the details of how they will divide the financial burden of raising their children even though they are no longer romantically involved. The Agreement addresses issues such as paying child support, healthcare expenses, and additional expenses related to raising children. Parents can use this document to come to a mutually satisfactory plan about how they will assign the responsibility of paying support that will be used for the maintenance of the children without needing to give up control of decision making to a judge. If both parents can be civil and work in the best interests of their children, they can save time, money, and energy by creating a Child Support Agreement by themselves.
If the parents would like to create agreements about custody and parenting time schedules, they should use a Child Custody Agreement.
How to use this document
This Agreement gives the parents the option to alter an existing child support agreement or to create a new child support agreement. Child support is generally based on a calculation that weighs the amount of time each parent will spend with the child and the parents' respective incomes and assets. A number of child support calculators can be found online. However, parents can elect to come up with their own agreement regarding child support without using the calculation. The caveat is that a judge has the final say regarding child support. However, judges generally approve any reasonable support agreement and are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to two parents who have worked together to create a child support agreement. In addition to specifying the child support amount, start date, and cut-off date, parents can assign responsibility for paying for the children's healthcare, education, and additional expenses.
Once the parents finish creating the Child Support Agreement, they can elect to have their own attorneys review the document and then sign, either in front of their attorneys or witnesses and a notary. The Agreement should then be filed with their local court so that a judge can approve the agreement and make it official. The parents should keep copies of this document for themselves to refer to in case of dispute, misunderstanding, or a desire to create a written alteration of the agreement.
Child support is a matter of both state and federal law. Every state except Massachusetts has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"). The UCCJEA dictates that child support and custody litigation pertaining to a particular child will occur in that child's home state, defined as the place where they have lived for six consecutive months prior to the litigation. If a child has not lived in any state for six consecutive months, their home state is defined as the state with significant connections to the child and at least one of the parents as well as substantial evidence regarding the child's care. Once a state takes the case, called jurisdiction, they then retain control over the case until a court decides that the child no longer has a connection to that state.
In determining matters related to children, such as child custody, visitation, and support, a Court must approve any arrangement using a "best interests of the child" standard. Generally, if both parents come to an agreement regarding these matters, a Court will be willing include the agreement in the official legal documents. However, the possibility remains that a Court will require an adjustment of the agreement if they determine that the arrangement is not in the best interests of the children involved.
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