When two people who have children together split up, one of the main questions to address is child support. The family court system in Ohio is designed to provide definitive answers on child support, custody and other issues. However, it’s often in the best interests of the parents and children to agree outside of court. Child support by agreement works well in situations where the parents are able and willing to work together to work out the specific details.
The parents may be able to work out payment terms on their own, including payment frequency, duration and amounts, or they might do better retaining attorneys to negotiate for them. Alternative dispute resolution is another route to reaching an agreement. With ADR, the process is less formal and adversarial than court proceedings, but it’s more formal than just working it out between the parents. ADR typically involves a mediator or arbitrator who works to help the parents come to an agreement.
The recommendations or decisions of a mediator or arbitrator are not necessarily compulsory on the parents, so they can usually still have a family court rule on the matter later. The best result is a fully-fledged plan for child support by agreement that is ready for submission to the judge. If the judge thinks the plan is fair to the children and parents, there may be an informal hearing to make sure it reflects their wishes before it’s approved.
An attorney with experience in family law might be able to help parents who are concerned about agreeing upon or collecting child support. In divorce cases, an attorney could help negotiate the terms of the child support agreement, put the parties in touch with a mediator or argue on the client’s behalf during formal child support hearings.