States have a formula to determine the amount of child support, but this is not an arbitrary figure. Negotiations can increase this amount. Parents have the right to come to their own agreement on child support and not rely on their state’s guideline. Submit the agreement to the court in order to make it official, in case there is difficulty in collecting it at a later date.
1. Child support is non-modifiable (no changes allowed) or modifiable (may be changed at a later date). I chose non-modifiable because I did not want to deal with any divorce issues again. If it looks like your spouse might be in for a big promotion, or his artwork is starting to sell, then modifiable may be the right choice. Then you can go to court when this happens to ask for an increase. If your husband has a great job and you think that might change, then you may choose non-modifiable so the rate does not dip. The judge looks at the potential earning ability of both parents as part of determining child support.
2. If the state’s guideline for child support seems too low, consider working with your spouse on this issue. If you are having a court divorce, it is hard to know how the judge will rule on it. Perhaps a spouse would take a few more household items and artwork in exchange for a slightly higher child support amount. Go online to your state’s “calculator” to get an idea of what to expect before the negotiation. Wish I had done that.
3. Get documentation and financial records pertaining to your children together for negotiation. Figure out your expenses including rent (the kid’s shelter), food, clothes and activities to show why you would require a higher rate for support. Offer proof with receipts paid for lessons, activities and other expenditures relating to the children.
4. There are various factors that can bump up the amount received. One is lifestyle. If the formula rate is much lower than what it would take to keep your children in their current lifestyle, and the payer can afford it, this is an argument to increase it. Look at what astronomical amounts some celebrities receive for child support. That makes the news.
5. You may be able to get extras paid, if the amount is lower than you would like. Is your daughter doing ballet? See if a weekly dance lesson can be paid as part of support. Does your son attend summer sports programs? Have that put into the divorce decree, that the other parent will pay for it. See if at least one week of summer camp is paid as part of the child support. Include after school activities in negotiating payments. Our parenting plan stipulated that their father would pay a local catholic high school’s tuition for each son through high school graduation.
6. Address medical and dental care in negotiations. The higher earner may be required to pay for them, or at least a larger portion of it. In our parenting plan, their father was required to pay 67% and I 37% due to our different earning capacities. Remember to deal with health insurance also. My husband was required to have both sons on his plan until their high school graduation.
7. If you have a child with a disability then your child support is greater than the standard formula. If you have any extenuating circumstances, then bring that to the table.
8. States may have in their guideline that the child support stops at age eighteen. If your child turns that age while in still in high school, have it extended through high school graduation with the projected date in the divorce decree. See if the payer will fund college expenses, including graduate school. Or at least open a 529 plan for college.
9. Eliminate hassles down the road by having your child support payments automatically deducted from his financial institution and deposited into your bank account. This avoids “The check is in the mail” and other scenarios.
10. Helping your spouse realize that child support is about the kids’ well-being might help it to be less painful and increase cooperation on his part. Keep your cool and handle this as a business transaction. When tempers explode like volcanos, less is accomplished.