A child support agreement is created between the parents of a child in order to finalize the child support details. This is usually done in connection with a divorce or legal separation. Ideally, the agreement needs to put in writing so that the parties have a record of terms for child support.

A typical child support agreement will cover:

  • Which parent will be responsible for financial payments
  • The amount of payment rendered
  • The frequency of payments (i.e., monthly, every other week, etc.)
  • The duration of payments (child support usually ends when the child turns 18 years old)

In any child support agreement, it is the child’s best interest that is most important, rather than the interests of either individual parent.

How Are Child Support Agreements Created?

There are three basic ways that a child support agreement can be created:

  • Through informal negotiation between the parties, typically with a lawyer representing each party
  • Through “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR), which is an out-of-court process
  • Through a court order issued during divorce or legal separation hearings

A temporary order of child support can sometimes be created. These may be issued at the beginning of a divorce trial so that the child does not lack financial support during the trial. The temporary order can then be converted into a permanent one once the divorce hearings are concluded.

Are All Child Support Agreements Enforceable?

Regardless of how it was created, a child support agreement usually needs to be put in writing and signed by both parents in order to be enforceable

However, child support agreements that are created out-of-court should still be submitted to a judge for court approval. This is to ensure that the child support arrangement complies with state guidelines. Also, child support agreements that aren’t approved by the court may not be immediately enforceable. 

If the court decides that a child support agreement is unacceptable, they can modify it, or reject it entirely and create a new one. Once a child support agreement is approved by the court, it usually made into a court order. 

This means that a parent can be held in contempt of court for violating a child support agreement. They could face sanctions such as fines, jail time, or loss of some civil privileges.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Support Agreements?

Child support agreements require cooperation between each parent, as well as compliance with the law. You may wish to hire a child support lawyer for help with a child support agreement. It is best if the agreement is submitted to the court for approval. An attorney can help ensure that your child support agreement is enforceable and backed by authority of law.