Can the Other Parent and I Agree to a Child Support Amount?

The issue here is whether the agreement is above or below guideline. However, generally the court will not stand in the way of a parent’s agreement.

Stipulated child support orders may be made in lieu of statutory formula support. [Fam.C. 4065(a); Marriage of Bodo (2011) 198 CA4th 373, 386, 129 CR3d 298, 306] Stipulated child support is consistent with the underlying statutory policy objectives, which state in relevant part: “The guideline seeks to encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and seeks to minimize the need for litigation.” [Fam.C. 4053(j), see Marriage of Laudeman (2001) 92 CA4th 1009.

However, if you and the other spouse agree, the agreement must comply with Family Code, Section 4065.

They are fully informed of their rights concerning child support (Fam.C. 4065(a)(1)); • The order is being agreed to without coercion or duress (Fam.C. 4065(a)(2)); • The agreement is in the children’s best interests (Fam.C. 4065(a)(3)); • The children’s needs will be adequately met by the stipulated amount (Fam.C. 4065(a)(4)); and • The right to child support has not been assigned to the county pursuant to Welf. & Inst.C. 11477 (public assistance cases) and no public assistance application is then pending (Fam.C. 4065(a)(5), but see ¶ 6:307). [See Marriage of Laudeman, supra, 92 CA4th at 1013–1014, 112

The court must still have a calculation pursuant to the guideline.

Because these conditions are triggered by a stipulated order below the 4055 formula amount, the court necessarily cannot approve stipulated child support until it knows what the guideline formula amount actually is. Consequently, stipulated child support does not relieve trial courts of the duty to make a formula support calculation. [Marriage of Hall (2000) 81 CA4th 313, 317, 96 CR2d 772, 775; see also Fam.C. 4056(a)(1)—mandatory findings include statement of what formula support amount would have been.

If the local child support agency is involved, the agreement must also have the approval of the agency.

However, a below guideline child support order can always be modified without a change in circumstances. The below guideline can be modified to the guideline amount.

“If the parties … stipulate to a child support order below the amount established by the statewide uniform guideline, no change of circumstances need be demonstrated to obtain a modification of the child support order to the applicable guideline level or above.” [Fam.C. 4065(d)]

If you have a child support question or issues, contact the Law Offices of H. William Edgar with offices located in Riverside, Temecula and Anaheim. Let our team help you. Contact our office for a free initial consultation.