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Child Support through Mediation

Calculating child support is a straightforward process in most cases but it does happen on occasion that exceptions need to be made that is in the best interests of the child. There are factors that sometimes need consideration involving cost of living for the custodial spouse, schooling and special needs of the child or children. In such situations, the non-custodial spouse might be called upon to provide more than would otherwise be asked of him or her. In such situations, mediation is often helpful in allowing both parents to come to an agreement.

Child Support and Non-Payment in Texas

Child support is an extremely serious matter. Nonpayment of child support is a felony and can result in imprisonment. It is unlikely that a non-custodial parent would be imprisoned over one missed or late payment. If nonpayment becomes a pattern, however, the likelihood increases. In Texas there are other potential legal repercussions including the suspension of business licenses, suspension of driver’s license, confiscation of property and garnishing of wages. While these might seem like excessive punishments, it is worth considering that nonpayment of child support can be extremely detrimental to a child’s wellbeing.

Child Support Calculation

The typical child support calculation is 20% of net monthly resources minus union fees and insurance for the first child and an additional 5% per extra child. In many cases, this amount is sufficient. This figure has been found to be an accurate representation of the costs that are involved in raising children. It is relatively simple to calculate. Regular payment of child support has been shown to have an important part to play in the wellbeing of children. Some studies suggest that a child whose custodial parent regularly receives child support payments will tend to exhibit less behavioral problems and do better in school.

When Mediation is Needed in Child Support Cases

Making the correct child support decisions from the beginning is extremely important. While it is possible to apply for a modification later, applications are not always successful. While child support can be determined by a formula application, often mediation is successful in finding the best solution for both parties. The best solution is an amount of child support that is sufficient for raising a child in the standard to which they have become accustomed.

Sometimes 20% of net monthly resources will not be a sufficient amount to raise a child satisfactorily. Fortunately, this is one area that most parents are open to discussion upon. It may not be surprising that schooling is one aspect of a child’s upbringing that has the potential to inflate costs. If parents have gone to the expense of sending their child to a private school, school fees may represent a disproportionate expense for the custodial parent. The simple solution would be to remove the child from private school and place them in a public school. The problem of course is that this can be extremely disruptive for the child in an already troubling time. In such situations, it would be well advised to seek mediation to determine a more realistic child support figure.

Child Support for Children with Special Needs

There are many children with special needs that cannot necessarily be calculated with a formula. Some children require special medical care or have other needs that are likely to require well in excess of the non-custodial parent’s monthly resources. In such cases, mediation can be a very good way to find an amount that is satisfactory to custodial parent and affordable to the non-custodial parent.

Mediation for Child Support Calculation

Some reductions are best obtained through mediation. While in many cases it is not possible to pay less than 20% for the first child, certain circumstances may warrant a slight reduction below the regular amount. One such circumstance is if the children spend a great deal of time with the non-custodial parent. If children stay for a significant length of time on a regular basis, the non-custodial parent may experience a financial burden. In such situations, it is sometimes possible to apply for a child support modification. If two parents legitimately believe such visitation will occur immediately following the divorce then it is best dealt with at the time of mediation.

Methods of Paying Child Support

Beyond monthly payments, “child support” can be paid other ways. Some non-custodial parents pay their child support in a lump sum. It can also be paid by setting aside property. Whether this is appropriate or not is best determined during the mediation process. The custodial parent may in fact depend on regular monthly payments. If, however, their finances warrant it, transferring property, annuities, lump sum payments or a combination of the payment methods could be appropriate. If both parents are able to agree on an alternative child support arrangement, it is likely to be accepted.

Waiving Child Support

It is worth noting that it is usually not possible for a custodial parent to waive child support. The reason being that the right to child support is technically not the custodial parent’s but that of the child. For this reason it is important to also discuss child support plans with a family law attorney. The mediation process can help with the creation of the plan but an attorney is essential to ensure that the agreement meets all the requirements of state and federal law.

Locating a Skilled Child Support Mediator

Mediation is a highly effective means of creating a child support agreement. A skilled mediator in combination with your family law attorney can help you to achieve a child support agreement that is in the interests of both spouses and the children involved. If you are looking for a skilled mediator, your family law attorney will be able to provide you with information. Your “family law attorney” will likely have had a great deal of experience working with different mediators and be able to advise you of the best mediator for your divorce.

Please call us today at 281-362-2865 or complete our contact form and let us assist you with your legal need.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
Serving The Woodlands, Spring, Houston, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Cypress, Huntsville, Cleveland, Stafford, Montgomery County, Harris County, West Oaks, Memorial, Sugar Land, River Oaks, Alief, Stafford, Missouri City, and Southwest Houston Texas.