Child Support in Mediation
When you’re ready to end your marriage, there are a lot of questions and concerns that arise. Divorce is never simple or easy, and it becomes even more difficult if there are children involved. Ending a marriage often means disrupting the family norm, and this change in dynamics can be a huge adjustment for everyone involved.
The point of divorce agreements, which often include child custody agreements, is to come to an agreement that, as much as possible, keeps the comfort and safety of the child a top priority. There are a variety of ways to go about dispute resolution when going through a divorce, and they don’t all require basic litigation.
Often, clients want to find a kinder, less adversarial way to work through their issues and make decisions. This often involves mediation, which is when a neutral party, the mediator, works with both parents at the same time to come to an agreement without having to get the court involved.
With mediation, both parties are able to agree in a way that benefits both parties as well as their child or children. It also preserves a bit of the relationship between the divorcing parties, which can make it easier to work through custody and visitation issues. Child support is a common issue to handle in mediation.
Mediation for Child Support Issues
A professional mediator will never take sides, and it’s not common for them to meet with individual clients in private meetings. The goal and purpose of mediation is to have everything out in the open, in a safe, neutral environment. The mediator also won’t tell the spouses what type of child support agreement they should decide upon – they’re just there to help the parties come to that decision themselves.
The mediator can, however, tell the parties what type of child support agreement the court is most likely to accept, so that the entire process runs as smoothly as possible. The court want to see a decision that’s in the child’s best interest, and a mediator can guide the parties to make decisions that the court will see in this light.
During mediation, the parents will learn the various complex aspects of child support. They will hear about New York State’s current child support guidelines. They will also be advised on special circumstances that could cause a judge to deviate from those guidelines.
One of the nice aspects of mediation is that a decision can be reached even if it doesn’t perfectly follow the law’s guidelines. For example, while the court may have a way to calculate the amount of child support given, if both parties can agree on a different amount during mediation, they have a lot more flexibility.
While in mediation, you will first learn about the guidelines that are determined by the number of children who are of child support age and the income of both parents. The mediator will also likely ask the parents if they have an idea in mind for child support arrangements. Budgets may be looked at to determine what is needed and what can be reasonably awarded for child support.
To make it easier to figure out, some couples opt to adhere to the guidelines of the state. Other couples don’t want to hear the guidelines at all and instead want to work out child support amounts and percentages on their own. Many clients do a combination of both – they start by hearing the guidelines and then determine how to best adapt them to suit their needs.
In addition to straightforward child support pay, additional issues will be discussed in mediation. These include providing the child with health insurance, paying for child care, reimbursing medical expenses, paying for life insurance, and deciding who will pay for educational expenses, like private school or college. The more you can work out in mediation, the easier it will be to meet everyone’s needs.
Benefits of Working with a Mediator to Handle Child Support
Divorcing or unmarried parents often appreciate the help they get during mediation. Both parties are helped along to come to an agreement that works for both of them as well as the child. If the agreement is in the child’s best interest, then it’s more likely to be approved by a judge and made into an official order.
During mediation, it’s important that both parents feel comfortable with the agreement they’ve come to. It’s very difficult to change a child support agreement that’s been finalized and made official. Once the New York State court approves the agreement, modifying it is an entire process on its own. However, there are some circumstances under which a child support agreement can be modified.
During mediation, both parents get to share their concerns and ask questions in an environment where they’ll get honest answers and have the ability to speak openly with one another. The mediator will also have a lot of experience and valuable information that can be shared with the parents, which can help clarify and ease the entire process. The goal is to have the most fair results possible for everyone involved. Both parents will have uninterrupted time during which they can explain why they feel a certain way about a specific child support issue.
It is possible for arguments and disagreements to arise during mediation. The mediator is adept at minimizes these disagreements, though, and at getting everyone back on track should a disruption occur. There are certain ground rules that may be set to make everyone feel safe and keep the process moving forward.
Working with a Professional
If you think that mediation is the best way to go about making important child support and divorce decisions, contact our Long Island divorce lawyers today. We’ll advise you on how to get started with a mediator and help you through every step of the process.