Parents in California who are ending their relationship often have concerns about child custody and support issues. If their children are minors at the time of the split, parents will often attempt to negotiate an appropriate financial arrangement that will ensure the children's needs are met.
In some cases, parents go to court and rely on a judge to make decisions about child support. However, there are alternatives to what may be an adversarial and costly process. In many cases, parents can agree between themselves as to what a fair amount of child support may be. Even in such cases, however, they must submit an agreement to a judge to approve.
In situations where parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, they may decide to turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). One of the most common types of ADR in child support cases involves a mediator who works with the couple, along with their lawyers, to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. A third option is going to an arbitration panel, in which both parents can present their concerns before an arbitrator. The arbitrator can then make a decision.
It should be noted that judges are not obligated to honor agreements developed through an ADR process. For this reason, individuals who are going through a divorce or the end of a relationship may benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney. The attorney may be able to review the client's case, identify red flags and assist in crafting an appropriate arrangement that ensures the best interest of the child. When necessary, the lawyer may also be able to represent the client in court while a judge makes a decision regarding the case.