Child support is a provision of law which is typically settled by our clients in mediation. It is designed to compensate the “financially disadvantaged” parent in the incremental cost of raising children. Financial disadvantage can occur in different ways. If a couple shares the children equally and they have the same incomes, then there would be no child support as neither parent is disadvantaged more than the other (There are other factors such as child care and health insurance premiums that can affect the calculation). Similarly, if a parent has the children more than the other while earning the same income, that parent would be financially disadvantaged in having more of the children’s every day expenses.
It is important to recognize that child support is not an amount that is designed to pay for all of a child’s needs or wants. It is simply a figure that is determined to “balance” the financial responsibilities in raising children. Non-essential, elective items such as sports and music lessons are addressed separately.
Prior to your mediation, you will be given guidance on what items to bring so we can assist you in determining a fair and equitable child support amount. We encourage couples to pay support by electronic funds transfer (not wage garnishment) to simplify the process. No one wants to have to ask for it and the payer does not want to be asked. So avoiding the dilemma of a missed payment will help you and your spouse avoid conflict and continue to work together as parents.
We also encourage couples to recalculate child support periodically to make sure that no parent is affected adversely. Couples find this periodic adjustment satisfying because they know that it facilitates an agreement that remains fair over time, not just on the day the agreement is made.