California law provides “guideline support” calculations that provide a basis for determining child support based upon several metrics. It is possible to deviate from this method if the parties are in a agreement and can justify their solution to the court. While the Court requires the discussion to begin with the calculated guideline amount negotiating child support is a better option for many couples.
California’s guideline child support calculations do not factor in many other important issues such as private education and extracurricular activities such as sports and the arts. These are considered to be “discretionary child support add-ons” which a Judge may or may not consider as part of their child support orders.
It is also important to note the calculator only extends through a specific income level. What happens when a high wage earner exceeds the maximum amount of income on the calculator?
Income for one of the parties may be sporadic based upon commissions or bonus payments. Child support payments may be customized to reflect these realities and provide a workable solution that benefits both parties while recognizing the natural rhythms in the life of the family. In other cases a party may be provided a greater share of community property to offset the payment of ongoing child support.
Why is a negotiated settlement a better option? The first reason is the likelihood of success after the divorce is completed. Many recent studies have documented that parties who participate in the process of determining agreed upon solutions in a divorce are much more likely to adhere to these agreements once final orders are issued by the Judge in their case. This saves a tremendous amount of time, hassle and money down the road by reducing post-decree disputes and litigation.
Negotiating child support is a better option for many couples as it preserves a more “normal” post-divorce life for their child(ren). Negotiated settlements often reflect the importance to the couple of maintaining established routines such as private education, religious practices, participation in sports and the arts and other expensive extra-curricular activities which are important to the child.
Couples who are able to negotiate child support or reach agreement in mediation also report a much higher level of satisfaction with the process and a marked reduction in the “emotional cost” of the divorce experience. Negotiation and mediation take less time and are most often less expensive and much faster than resolving the issue before the Court.
Each situation is unique, however negotiating child support is a better option for many couples in divorce. It is possible to deviate from California’s guideline child support in order to reach a better overall solution for the divorcing couple and their child(ren).
The Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq have extensive experience in negotiations which help to lower the emotional burden as well as the actual financial cost of your divorce by reducing litigation while preserving a better working relationship between the parties. We help you to reach an effective agreement while developing the documentation and justification required by law for the Judge to review and approve the requested deviation.
We invite you to review the strong recommendations of our clients and contact Burke & Domercq or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.