When parents in California share a child and then part ways, there will likely be a requirement that one parent pay child support to the other parent. In general, the courts must follow the child support guidelines when deciding on the amount that will be paid. There are exceptions to this rule and it is only required that the individual circumstances meet one of the exceptions that are available. There is an exception if the parents make an agreement that the amount will differ from the guidelines. This can be higher or lower than what the guideline would order, provided it meets other criteria.
Parents are able to deviate from the guidelines if the following factors are in place: they are aware of their rights when it comes to child support; they know the guidelines for child support; they have not been pressured or alter the agreement because of force; they are not getting public assistance; they have not filed an application to receive public assistance; they agree to an amount that is in the best interests of the child and will provide full support; they believe that the amount will meet the child's needs; and a judge approves the amount that is agreed to.
Parents also have the right to agree to an amount in child support that is based on the child support guidelines. When there is a stipulation that the guideline amount will be used, the parents do not need to go before a judge to determine child support. The agreement will simply be submitted to the court clerk and the judge will sign it so enforcement of the order can commence. In the event that one of the parents receives public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the child support agency is required to agree to it and sign it between the parents. If the local child support agency is collecting on a support order, then it too must sign this agreement.
There are numerous issues that can lead to a child support dispute. The failure to adhere to the guidelines or a desire on the part of one of the parents to deviate from them can be the catalyst for a disagreement. Those who are worried about how the child support payment will be determined and if there can be an order that does not adhere to the guidelines may need to get more information about their case as soon as possible.