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How parents might reach an agreement about child support

Georgia parents who are getting a divorce may be concerned about child support. It is possible for parents to negotiate their own child support agreement as long as the agreement they make is consistent with state law. The written agreement is usually submitted to a judge so that it can become legally binding. The judge will review the agreement and make sure that both parents understand its contents.

A child support agreement should have three elements. It must specify how much support will be paid, when it will be paid, and for how long it will be paid. Parents might reach an agreement about child support through informal negotiations. In some cases their respective attorneys will merely review the resulting document, while on others the negotiations may be primarily carried out by the attorneys.

More formally, alternative dispute resolution processes may be helpful. Mediation and collaborative law involve parents more heavily in the process of resolving conflict. Arbitration involves a neutral third party who listens to the evidence of both parents and makes a decision. However, this method is rare in family court matters.

Child support is usually based on the child custody arrangement, with the noncustodial parent paying support to the custodial parent. Therefore, custody and visitation might be other issues that parents may negotiate formally or informally to reach a decision that is in the child's best interests. Parents may decide on joint custody or they might make an arrangement in which the noncustodial parent still has a substantial amount of visitation time. In most cases, it is better for children to have significant time with both parents. Exceptions are cases where there has been domestic violence or other issues.

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