When separated parents can agree to the critical issues of child custody and child support, their children benefit. Both public policy and common sense tell us that it is far better for children to see their parents act in a mature, harmonious manner than it is to see their parents fight during an already difficult period of time. We encourage our clients to attempt to reach amicable agreements and believe that it is important to understand their options when it comes to agreements.
One option to effectuate an agreement regarding child support is a separation agreement. This is a legally binding contract between parents following their date of separation in which they can agree to property division, child custody, spousal support, and/or child support. With such an agreement, the parents can specifically address the amount and duration of child support, health insurance for the child, and any other extraneous expenses that a party agrees to cover.
Notably, in order to enforce a separation agreement, a wronged party to the contract must file a lawsuit for breach of contract. One of the downsides regarding separation agreements is that courts do not have to enforce the child custody or child support portions of the agreements and can always modify the terms if it is in the child’s best interest to do so. However, child custody and support orders can also be modified at anytime if one parent can show that the circumstances have change substantially and the minor child or children are affected.
Examples of this are if the court feels that the agreement does not provide enough visitation to a parent to foster a continued parent-child relationship and if the agreement provides inadequate financial support for the child.
Child Support Consent Order
Another option when parents can agree to a child support obligation is a child support consent order. In essence, the parents are reaching an agreement and asking a court to approve and enter the order. To obtain a child support consent order, there must be an existing lawsuit. The parties will then reach their agreement and present it to the court without the need for a contested trial. Courts will generally approve these agreed upon consent orders unless it finds the terms to be contrary to the child’s best interest.
The benefit of a consent order is that your agreement has already made it past a judge and has the full force and effect of a court order. And when you or your spouse need to enforce or modify the order, it will be in the legal context of an existing child support case and not through a breach of contract proceeding.
Contact New Direction Family Law
If you are interested in discussing a child support agreement, contact New Direction Family Law. We have helped many clients successfully reach enforceable agreements via separation agreements and consent orders. We will consider your situation and present you with a plan that meets your needs. We want to help you. Our team proudly serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us online at our website.