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Options for reaching an agreement about child support

When San Jose parents of young children get a divorce, one will likely be obligated to pay child support to the other. However, this decision is not necessarily one that is made by a judge. Parents might enter informal negotiations with the help of their attorneys to reach an agreement about child support. In some cases, parents might actively participate in this negotiation while in other cases their attorneys might take the lead.

Mediation and collaborative law require much more participation from parents. These are methods of conflict resolution that aim to address the concerns of all parties and reach a solution that suits everyone. Arbitration, less used in family law than in other legal areas, involves a third party listening to both people and making a decision. This decision is usually one that can be altered. These are all known as alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

Most of the time, for all of these approaches, the goal is to produce a written agreement that a judge reviews. The agreement must specify the support amount, its duration and how often it will be paid. Judges are likely to approve the agreement that parents reach if it does not violate state child support guidelines and if it appears to have been fairly negotiated. There may also be an informal hearing. The agreement then becomes legally binding.

Parents may struggle to negotiate aspects of divorce like this because of the emotions involved. However, these methods of negotiation may produce an outcome the parents are happier with than one decided by a judge. Parents may address a number of other issues such as how they might pay for a child's college education. They can also use these conflict resolution methods in putting together a parenting agreement that aims for consistency with their children between their two households.

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