Agreeing to Child Support Amounts in California
When it comes to calculating child support, the California Family Code sets out a precise formula for calculating the amount of child support to be paid in a specific case. The guideline formula is the standard formula that is followed by the courts, which you can read more about here. Aside from the guideline amount, the court has the power to order a parent to pay additional child support for other costs associated with the care and upbringing of a child. To learn more about child support add-ons and what kinds of expenses fit into this addition I invite you to click here for out blog post on Child Support Add-Ons -- a post in our series on Child Support.
While the guideline amount is the baseline standard, it does not have to be the final child support amount. Under California Family Code section 4065(a), parties are able to stipulate or agree to deviate from the amount of child support that would otherwise be ordered by the court under the uniform guideline formula.
Stipulations can be reached between the parents at any time, either before or after a court order has been issued. However, it's important to note that the court has the final say in all matters related to child support, and any stipulations must be approved by the court to be enforceable.
In order for the agreement to be enforceable, the parties must file the agreement with the court and request that it be incorporated into a court order. Once the court approves the stipulation and issues an order reflecting its terms, the parents are legally bound to comply with the terms of the order.
There are several reasons why parents may want to enter into a stipulation regarding child support. For example, the parents may agree that the guideline formula amount is too high or too low given their specific circumstances, or they may agree to a higher amount of child support in exchange for the other parent agreeing to provide additional parenting time or to pay for certain expenses.
If the parties want to agree to an amount that is lower than the guideline amount, the court will not approve the agreement unless the parties, under Family Code section 4065(a)(1)-(5), declare that they are fully informed of all of their rights regarding child support, that the agreement is made without any kind of coercion or under any duress, that the agreement is in the best interests of the child or children involved, that the proposed child support amount that is lower than the guideline formula will still be enough to meet the needs of the child or children, and that the right to child support has not been assigned to the county pursuant to Section 11477 of the Welfare and Institutions Code and no public assistance application is pending.
In summary, stipulations can be a useful tool in child support cases, allowing parents to deviate from the guideline formula amount in certain circumstances. However, it's important to ensure that the agreement is fair and reasonable for both parties, as well as in the best interests of the child to have it approved by the court so that it is enforceable.
There are many reasons why parties may want to deviate from the guideline support amount and an agreement may be a way to streamline the issue of child support to ensure that the needs of your child/children are adequately met. The attorneys at Harris & McKeown Law Firm have been assisting clients around Southern California with their child support matters for over 10 years. It is important to have a diligent team on your side when it comes to giving or obtaining support for your children.
If you are located in Orange County or its surrounding counties and you need advice regarding child support, schedule a consultation appointment online here or by calling (949) 297-6529.
THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND THIS GUIDE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE READER AND ITS AUTHOR. IF YOU HAVE LEGAL QUESTIONS, CONSULT WITH A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.