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What constitutes a child support agreement?

Child support is a required payment made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the care and maintenance of the person's child or children. In California, courts must issue an order directing the non-custodial parent to pay child support according to child support guideline issued by the state. However, the divorcing parents may agree to a different child support amount if they draft and agree to a child support agreement outside the court.

Parents can agree on an amount that differs from the current California state guideline only if they are aware of their legal rights with regard to child support issues and the amount they should receive under child support guidelines. Parents should not be receiving any public assistance or should not have applied for any public assistance if they enter into a child support agreement outside the court.

The child support agreement must be signed voluntarily and without any pressure. Parents have the right to agree to an amount higher or lower than the amount the custodial parent is entitled to receive under the child support guideline. Parents should believe that the support amount agreed to is in the best interest of the child. They should also decide how any education, health and travel expenses of the child will be divided. The amount agreed to by parents must also be approved by a California court.

If parents agree to a child support order based on the guidelines, they do not need to appear before the judge who will approve the child support amount. They need only submit their agreement to the court clerk who will then present it to the judge for judge's signature for enforcement. In California, any child support agreement must be signed by the local child support agency, if any parent is receiving public assistance.

Source: Courts.CA.gov, "Child Support Agreements," Accessed on July 10, 2015

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