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Can Parties Agree to Waive Child Support?


When parties get divorced with minor children, there is a great deal of negotiation that goes on between them. Give and take is part of the negotiation process and is generally a good thing, that courts favor. The less fighting that parents do during the divorce, the easier it is on the minor children.

Negotiating Child Support

One thing that parents may try to negotiate with is child support, specifically, agreeing to waive the right to receive child support. Maybe this is in exchange for other accommodations such as more alimony, better division of property, or more time sharing with the child. Many parents are even willing to forego child support payments from the other spouse, just to “get them out of the picture.” They would rather the other parent “go away” than take child support from him or her.

The problem is that a judge will not accept a divorce that waives child support as one of the terms. This is because child support payments belong to the child. The court will not allow parents to waive something that belongs to the child. In some cases, even attempting to do so can draw the ire of a family law judge.

How Parties Can Work Out Agreed-to Child Support

Because child support is based on a formula that generally is based on income inequality between the parents and the amount of time the child spends with each parent, it is possible to have a time sharing arrangement that is close to 50-50, with parents that make about equal incomes, and come out with a child support figure that is very low.

For example, a parent making money on commission or with a seasonal business may have some flexibility in what his or her stated income is, and thus can utilize an income figure that allows the parties to get closer to even, and thus, a nominal child support number.

Assuming both parties are fit, and it won’t be a detriment to the child, the parties can work out a visitation schedule that is about even, and thus, lowers child support payments. Just bear in mind that whatever schedule you agree to, you will have to live with. You cannot provide your ex 120 nights a year with the child in your agreement or final judgment in order to manipulate the child support, and then later complain if he or she actually wants the child on those 120 nights.

Deviation From the Support Guidelines

Courts do have the ability to deviate from the child support guidelines. This must be specifically requested by the parties, and the court often must list specific reasons, which means that you should have these specific reasons to show the court why a deviation won’t hurt the child. While the ability for a court to deviate from the guidelines is limited, the deviation can still help parties get closer to the child support figure they are seeking.

Are you getting a divorce and need to work out child support concerns or issues? Our Tampa family law attorneys at The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help you with your family law legal problems and questions.


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