In a divorce, parents can work together with the help of a mediator, or a collaboratively trained attorney in the Collaborative Divorce process, to put together their own parenting plan which includes child custody and support. This parenting plan is filed with the court which must approve the plan for it to become official by order of the court. One of the advantages of using Mediation or Collaborative Divorce is that a separated couple have more input in creating a parenting plan than if a judge makes the decision.
Negotiating Child Custody
Parents are actually encouraged to make their own parenting plans involving custody issues. Together, you present the parenting plan that you developed (with the help of a mediator) to the court. The court will approve it if the court determines the plan is in the best interest of the children.
Guidelines for Child Support Limit Parents’ Ability to Negotiate
The court and virtually every California family law attorney use a software program called the DissoMaster to calculate what the amount of child support should be according to the court’s guidelines. Both parents’ gross income (ultimately net income) is added along with other pertinent information. The computer program then calculates an amount one parent should pay the other for child support.
The court takes that number and makes it the child-support order unless there are other factors presented for consideration. Together, you may present the court with your own agreed upon child support settlement.
California law states that neither party can waive the court’s ability to order child support. The court does have the discretion to make a child support order that diverges from the amount determined by the DissoMaster if the parents have an agreement for either a higher or lower amount if the following conditions are met:
- Each parent is fully informed about their child support rights.
- You know the guideline child support amount.
- Neither parent feels pressured or forced to agree to this amount of child support that is presented to the court.
- Neither parent has applied or is receiving public assistance.
- Both parents believe the agreed-upon amount of support will meet the needs of the children and is in the best interest of the children.
When all these criteria are met, a judge will likely approve the amount of child support agreed upon.
For assistance with your divorce and how mediation can help you and your spouse create a parenting plan, including child support and custody, contact Kim Mediation and Law Center. You can also call us at 213-351-1000 to schedule a consultation.